How A Murder 28 Years Ago Ended Student Politics In Mumbai

What a coincidence! It was only this morning that I asked my colleagues, who have been brought up in Mumbai, whether campus politics existed here and I discovered an NDTV report on the decline of campus politics in Mumbai thereafter.

Coming from Lucknow, I had witnessed the presence of local netas in college and I know fairly well about the politics of Delhi colleges, particularly DU, courtesy of my sister. Also, who doesn’t know about Delhi’s infamous campus politics nowadays? It’s all over the news, isn’t it?

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Source

Coming back to Mumbai’s campus politics- My colleagues told me that nothing of that sort exists here. And the aforementioned NDTV report tells us why. Here’s the incident that apparently led to the fall of politics on the grounds of Mumbai’s colleges:

The student elections across Mumbai colleges were scheduled for approximately four months from 5th October 1989 when the district President of National Students Union of India (NSUI), Owen D’Souza was murdered. 

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Owen DSouza | Source

BJP MLA Parag Alavani, who was the then secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), told NDTV what he witnessed that day.

“I was a student then at the Jitendra Chouhan Law College, which is the legal faculty of Mithibai College in Vile Parle; it was an evening college,” he said. “It was around 7.30 pm; I was talking to the college principal in his cabin. Suddenly, we heard there had been a killing just outside the college.”

Parag Alavani | Source
Parag Alavani | Source

Owen’s body, according to Alavani, had 64 stab wounds with the fingers chopped off. “The brutality of the murder showed the rage of the assaulters,” said he.

Naturally, all suspicious eyes turned towards Alavani owing to his political affiliation. He was apparently made an easy scapegoat. “It was a false FIR; it was made out to be a killing because of student politics enmity,” he told NDTV.

The Congress ministers, according to Alavani, had pressurised the police to book Alavani for Owen’s murder. He, however, was absolved of the charges in 2002.

Representative Image | Photo by Ritam Banerjee/Getty Images
Representative Image | Photo by Ritam Banerjee/Getty Images

Moreover, Alavani points towards the gang-wars of that time and insinuates towards the murder being carried out by a “rival gang” since D’Souza, according to him, “had more than 25 criminal cases against him.”

D’Souza’s sister, Lona Rawat (who is now associated with the Shiv Sena), however, contradicts the fact that her brother was involved in criminal activities. “He had no criminal cases against him. He was actively involved in the NSUI; he had good relations with Rajiv Gandhi, Sunil Dutt and Murli Deora,” she said.

Lona Rawat | Source
Lona Rawat | Source

Rawat further told NDTV, “You ask the people of Jogeshwari (where the family lived) about Owen; don’t ask me, I am his sister, I may be partial. They will all tell you about his sterling qualities and his social work for the community.”

Both Alavani and Rawat have different views about what actually put a stop to Mumbai’s campus politics. While Rawat has “no doubt” about the fact that her brother’s murder spelled a ban on Maharashtra’s student elections, Alavani does not hold the murder responsible since college elections were actually discontinued after 1992.

Mumbai University | Source
Mumbai University | Source

And both of them want the student elections to be restored on the campus since, in Rawat’s words, “It is an incubator and the first step towards a full-fledged political career.” Well, the Maharashtra University Act, 2015, that has been implemented, will bring elections back to the campuses with effect from 1st march 2017.

News Source: NDTV

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