The National Commission for Women (NCW) has ordered a probe into the alleged manhandling of JNU students and women journalists during a protest march in the capital Friday. Delhi Commission For Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal also attacked the Delhi police, calling the incident “shameful”.
On Friday, a large number of JNU students and teachers marching to the Parliament complex were met with lathicharge and water cannons. They were protesting against compulsory attendance, autonomy and “lack of administrative action” against JNU Professor Atul Johri, accused of sexual harassment.
“We have ordered a probe and sent a team today (Saturday) to meet police officers. We will further pursue the matter on Monday,” NCW acting chairperson Rekha Sharma said.
Protesters have said that the “attack” by police was “unprovoked”. In a statement Saturday, DCP Madhur Verma said, “Yesterday’s incident was a very unfortunate one. Our deepest apologies to the media. Our intention wasn’t to obstruct the media from doing its job. In the confusion, some female police personnel mistook a photojournalist as a protester. While that is still not an excuse, I would like to stress it was completely by accident. We have taken strong cognizance of the matter and an inquiry has been ordered. Delhi Police and I personally have always maintained that the media is an integral part of our democracy.”
Maliwal said, “What kind of apology is this? If you have to apologise, then you should apologise for your deeds. Now you’re apologising because you’re saying, oh, we have attacked mediapersons and we were about to beat up protesters. I have never heard of a more outlandish statement. Delhi Police should retract their statement and take strict action against those responsible for attacking these girls.”
She added, “I wouldn’t want some junior officers to be transferred or suspended. Which senior officer was present there… Action should be taken against them.”
The long march, which started at the varsity campus, was organised by the JNU Students’ Union and the JNU Teachers’ Association.
Atishi Marlena, advisor to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, alleged, “This is a dangerous sign for democracy. Not only were these female protesters treated with extreme brutality, but the fact that this can take place in the capital where the Centre runs the government… We have seen this brutality in the past years and have often been victim to it. But now it seems that this is also a response to student protests.”