Several students were injured while the police tried to stop them from marching towards Rashtrapati Bhawan.
New Delhi: Students and civilians who gathered on Thursday near Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) to protest the violence in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) were lathi-charged and a dozen of them were detained from the location by police.
Protesters alleged they were lathi-charged by the police near Shastri Bhawan even though they were marching peacefully from MHRD towards Rashtrapati Bhavan after students met HRD ministry officials.
JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh had given a call to march towards Rashtrapati Bhavan as they refused to compromise on the resignation of Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, alleging that it was under his watch that students and teachers were attacked by a masked mob inside the campus on January 5.
A lawyer present at the protest site said 12 people, including men and women, were detained by the police and taken to Mandir Marg police station and they were later released. Besides, a student of Ambedkar University (AUD) was also detained in an injured condition and was let out of the bus after others complained about him bleeding and needing medical attention.
A lawyer, Suroor Mander, said four people injured in the police action near Le Meridian hotel, including the AUD student Shivang, were taken to hospital in personal capacity.
A female protester who was present at the demonstration alleged she was hit by a male cop.
The 26-year-old protester, who went there in solidarity with the JNU students and requested anonymity, alleged she was beaten up by police twice on Thursday.
“When we started moving towards Rashtrapati Bhavan peacefully, the police stopped us. There were some female police personnel, along with a woman in civil dress, wearing a white sweater. I was wearing a red shawl. I heard one policewomen saying ‘grab that red shawl wali’. Then the civil dressed woman grabbed me by my shawl which was wrapped around my neck and started pulling me and almost choking me. I somehow got rid of it and escaped.”
After this, she said, the protesters were being pushed back by the police towards the MHRD side and being detained as well. At this time, it was dark and she kept questioning how the police could detain women after sunset. She claimed her sister was also hit by the police and broke her index finger. Both them are yet to receive their medical reports from the hospital where they were later taken.
Narrating her ordeal, she said that suddenly she was hit by a male cop who was trying to push her inside a parked bus.
“A policeman punched my chest and I collapsed. No female police was around me. And then, the police dragged me by my legs to put me inside the bus,” she alleged, recounting the incident that she said had left her traumatised.
“When I was in the bus, I started feeling quite unwell. Another boy was bleeding inside the bus so every protester was trying to get him out and send him to hospital. Moments later, the bus was stopped to let him out and I also got out and fainted on the footpath. Some people got me in an ambulance where I was for almost an hour before I was taken to hospital. I was given oxygen in the ambulance and fainted there a couple of times,” she said.
The girls said was discharged from the hospital around 11 p.m and was still recovering from the pain and trauma at home.
“I feel the police were targeting us (she and her sister) because we were in our burkhas. The prime minister had said that protesters can be recognised by their clothes and that’s what the police were doing yesterday,” she alleged.
“I want to file a FIR against the male police who hit me. Even among 20,000 police, I can recognise his face. I can never forget it,” she said.
Shubham Khandelwal, another civilian who had gone to the protest to support the students, said he also saw male police personnel beating up women.
He alleged, “When women came forward to shield the men from getting beaten, male police pushed them back and beat them too.”
He added that when the protesters tried to escape the police’s baton by running to the other side of the road, they found it barricaded as well. Then they were eventually cornered and many of them were taken inside a bus and detained.
The ones who were not detained, though in a much smaller number than the original protest, marched peacefully through Janpath and Connaught Place to reach Mandir Marg police station to get the detainees released, Shubham added.
The writer is a freelance journalist based in Delhi.