Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University marching from Mandi House to the Ministry of Human Resource Development on the first death anniversary of Hyderabad University research scholar Rohith Vemula were allegedly roughed up and detained by Delhi Police and paramilitary forces on Tuesday.
Two journalists working for InUth.com, an Indian Express group website, were also roughed up by police while covering the protest.
“I kept shouting I’m a journalist but police dragged me to the police van, kicking me at the same time. They also dragged my female colleague to the bus,” said Saptaparno Ghosh, a journalist working with InUth.
DCP (New Delhi) B K Singh said, “Fifty students were detained and taken to Parliament Street police station around 5 pm and released around 7 pm. The police did not use any force. However, if there is any such evidence, I will look into it.”
While students who had called the ‘Insaaf March’ had planned to walk to the ministry, police pressed the JNU students’ union (JNUSU) to take its march to Jantar Mantar instead.
As students reached the roundabout next to the Janpath market, JNUSU president Mohit Pandey announced that they would stay put unless they were allowed to go to the ministry.
Police then allegedly started dragging students to a nearby bus in a bid to detain them. Former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and student leader Umar Khalid were among them. Some students, who thought they would escape detention by running into the nearby McDonalds, were allegedly not spared either as police personnel went inside the food joint to detain them.
“Some policemen were mishandling (JNUSU joint secretary) Tabrez. When I went to help him, a policeman grabbed my neck and tried to push me away. I got bruises on my face and neck,” said Dipsita Dhar, an activist with the Students’ Federation of India.
Another student, who resisted detention, was allegedly slapped by a policeman. A few other policemen also allegedly took to breaking banners and flags being carried by the students.
An All India Students’ Association (AISA) activist, who was among those who were allegedly assaulted by police, said, “While they were dragging me to the bus, a man kept kicking me from behind.” Some students also alleged that they were assaulted inside the bus.
JNUSU president Mohit Pandey later said one year had passed since Rohith Vemula’s death but “the government at the Centre has done nothing for the marginalised sections”. “Najeeb Ahmad, who also belongs to a marginalised community, has disappeared and there is no serious attempt to find him,” he said.