Two days after the Delhi Police used brute force against students seeking justice for Rohith Vemula near the RSS office at Jhandewalan, students’ unions have decided to intensify their protest.
According to the Joint Action Committee on Justice for Rohith Vemula, an umbrella body of mostly Left-backed unions, students from across the country would conduct a march to Delhi tentatively on 4-5 February. Besides there would be rallies, torch-light processions and protest march to the Delhi Police headquarters in the coming days.
A group of students belonging to the joint action committee are on a hunger strike on JNU campus already. The CPI (M-L)-backed students’ body All India Students’ Association (AISA) has called for protest demonstration against the alleged police brutality at Delhi’s Police headquarters on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a video released by the Aam Aadmi Party, which shows police cane-charging and indiscriminately beating up protesting male and female students, has gone viral. It has added fuel to the fire.
“It was an atrocious act. The police unleashed a reign of terror by mercilessly beating students who were protesting peacefully. It’s a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution. The BJP government wants to gag each and every voice that speaks of any wrong-doing. Students in Kolkata and other parts have been holding rallies to express solidarity on this issue,” said Shehla Rashid, member of AISA and vice president, JNU Students’ Union.
The video showing male cops beating up female students has also raised serious question on the police’s action.
“There were female cops at the demonstration venue but their male counterparts took over and started hitting female students and dragged them by the hair. Some goons came out of the RSS office and started beating up students too. They had the support of the police. The accusation of the police that students attacked them first is false. We broke a police barricade, which we do during protests, but didn’t attack them. All of us were unarmed,” alleged Mohit, a student member of the Joint Action Committee.
“The tragic part of the entire episode is that instead of punishing the culprits, the students who demanded justice were beaten up,” added Ashutosh Kumar, secretary, Delhi State, AISA.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police has tried to shift the blame, alleging that the protesters provoked the police personnel to take this step.
“It was protesters who provoked first. They threw banners and sticks at us. They broke the first barricade. Then they charged towards the second layer of barricade where maximum force was deployed. An inquiry would be conducted by going through the video and other sources, and action would be taken against the defaulters,” DCP Central Paramditya reportedly said.
The Congress-backed National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) has strongly condemned the police crackdown on students, alleging the incident as “police-RSS-BJP nexus”.
“This action shows that the government has been feeling the heat of the protests and it wants to silence their voice. This is unacceptable. We’re in talks with other students’ group from across the country and will go for a joint protest on a large-scale,” NSUI president Roji M John said.