The sense of fear attached to Sunday’s violence on Jawaharlal Nehru University campus hit not just the students and faculty but also the citizens of New Delhi as several cab and auto-rickshaw drivers are not willing to take commuters to the JNU campus or pick them up from the varsity premises.
According to several students of the premier institution, the cab and auto-rickshaw drivers are citing the “situation in the varsity” as an excuse to refuse rides.
“We wanted to go to the JNU protests at Mandi House, but our driver refused to come to the JNU campus. He asked us to come near the T-point on Aruna Asaf Ali Road, so we had to walk all the way from our hostels,” said Debomita Chatterjee, a JNU student.
She and a group of three other students faced more woes due to the heavy barricading put up on both ends of the road, a little ahead of the North Gate, forcing people to walk for long distances before taking any public transport.
Many students said, cab drivers “cancelled rides” after realising that the drop or pick-up location was JNU.
“It is not that we do not pick up or drop commuters, but the situation in JNU is such that we cannot take any risk, what if someone damages the vehicle,” said a cab driver, who did not wish to be identified.
Many cabs were seen picking students from spots far off from the main gate, and several other drivers said, security was a matter of concern for not plying to the JNU or near it.
At Hauz Khas, many auto-rickshaw drivers either plainly refused or sped away as soon as the commuters expressed their wish to be dropped at JNU campus or even the main gate of the varsity.
“The situation there is not good, so I cannot take a risk. I am a poor autowallah and have to earn my daily bread. I have to be careful. The situation at JNU can change at any time. Who knew a Sunday would become so terrifying,” said Sat Pal, an auto-rickshaw driver.
However, Daljeet Singh, another auto-rickshaw driver, and resident of Sangam Vihar, said he was ferrying passengers to the JNU main gate, or till the point the police personnel allowed.
“My brother was present inside the campus when the violence happened. He was stranded for a while… But, I am not refusing to ferry any commuter… I used to live in the Ber Serai area few years ago, so I know this place. I have no fear,” he said.
A mob wearing masks and armed with shovels, stones and sharp objects had on Sunday attacked students and teachers on the campus, sparking massive protests across the country.
On Thursday, hundreds of JNU students marched to the HRD ministry and were later stopped when they tried to go towards Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of a protest to demand the sacking of university Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar over the violence on the campus.
(With inputs from agencies)