THE ATTACK on students, most of them from JNU, and journalists had started when I entered the Patiala House Courts complex around 2.30 pm on Monday afternoon. I had passed through the security gate and picked up my bag from the scanning machine when I spotted some men dressed in black coats worn by lawyers beating a young man wearing casual clothes.
As they rained blows on him, they called him an “anti-national”. “Yeh Bharat ke against bol raha tha (He was speaking against India),” they said, as one of them held on the man’s muffler to stop him from escaping.
I could see police in the background, but they did nothing.
“Where are you from? Where are you from? Who are you?” they shouted. “Bhaisaab, I am not from JNU,” he replied. “Show us your identity card,” replied one from the group.
It was then that I heard more shouting from behind. There, another man was being assaulted by men who were shouting, “This one too…this one too.”
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Apparently, they were targeting anyone “dressed like a JNU student”. I took out my mobile phone to inform my colleagues at The Indian Express about the situation. But then, another man dressed like a lawyer appeared seemingly out of nowhere and snatched the phone.
“You will not shoot videos,” he said. I told him I wasn’t recording and was only making a phone call. A third man, also in black robes, rushed over and slapped me.
“Desh ke gaddar (anti-national),” the group shouted. Within seconds, I was surrounded by at least 10 men in lawyers’ coats. They started slapping and punching me, targeting my face and head.
I remember screaming at them, “I am a journalist..I am a journalist.” But nobody seemed to care. After a few more seconds, they stopped but then another man dressed like a lawyer walked up and slapped me again. They kept shouting at me, “He recorded a video…get out of here…get out.”
Finally, a lawyer from the court came to my rescue. He stopped the assault, and told me to quietly leave the premises. I asked for my phone, which was handed over to me. The screen was cracked.
As I began walking away, I noticed a few journalists, including Aazan from DNA newspaper, being chased by a group of men in black. He was beaten but managed to escape.
I ran towards the policemen standing near the baggage scanner machine. None of them moved or even attempted to intervene.
At this point, I was in shock. I asked a policeman, “Why was I beaten? Why is the media being targeted? Why are you not helping?” One of them said with a stoic stare, “Leave before this happens again.”
I made my way to gate number 2, which opens out to India Gate, with other journalists. We walked out even as more men dressed in black came running after us. They were shouting, “Hindustan Zindabad…” The police quickly let us out and closed the gate. But those men in black stood behind the iron gate, continuing to stare at us.