A video of extreme police brutality did the rounds on Monday, forcing people to take note of the lathicharge on university students carrying out a protest for justice of Rohith Vemula, the Dalit student from Hyderabad who had committed suicide earlier this month. The protest march, carried out in front of the Delhi office of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on January 30 by the Delhi chapter of the National Joint Action Committee of students, was attacked by the police and by some men in plainclothes, as is seen in the video. These men, students from the JAC, allege were members of the RSS, whom the police apparently gave a free hand, as not just male students but female students got beaten by men.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The protest march was carried out from the Ambedkar Bhawan to the RSS office on Vemula’s 27th birth anniversary and the day of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, said secretary of the Jawaharlal University Students Union (JNUSU), which is part of the JAC, as they hold the RSS responsible for both. Hence the date was significant. “However, there is now a trend of crackdowns on student protests,” said Rashid, giving Saturday and the lathicharge on students protesting as part of the Occupy UGC movement late last year, as examples. The RSS, she said, were given a free hand and they abused the police machinery to attack the students, who hadn’t attacked anyone.”The march started at 2pm. The police had put a line of barricades near the RSS office, which we broke,” said Rashid, recounting the events. JNUSU protests routinely break barricades and then sit in protest in front of whichever place they march to, she explained. This time the student group got split in two as some students managed to reach the front of the RSS office via another gate and the ones who had broken the barricade found themselves at the wrong ends of lathis and fists.Though Rashid said there were no plans to take direct action against the police, as all the JAC’s energy was focussed on justice for Rohith Vemula, the Delhi Commission for Women took cognisance of the manhandling of female protestors by the police; the video shows at least one cop pulling a woman down by her hair. DCW chief Swati Maliwal, of the Aam Aadmi Party released a statement saying “The video is extremely disturbing” and has asked the Delhi police to for a full report, the names and designations of officers who approved this police action and reasons for non-availability of women police personnel. Maliwal also asked for a copy of all guidelines and standing orders of Delhi Police for dealing with female protesters, all within 72 hours.Though the Delhi Police did not respond to dna’s request for a comment, they tweeted that “Spl CP (Law & Order) has asked the Jt CP Central Range S.K Gautam to look into the incident & submit a report”, regarding the “AISA and JNUSU protest”.The JAC members have planned a protest at the Delhi Police headquarters on Tuesday, at 11 am.
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