Around 100 students were detained and several injured in two rounds of lathicharge by police, during the ‘Long March to Parliament’ organised by the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) Monday against the hostel fee hike. Among those injured were visually challenged students, teachers and a reporter. Police said 15 students and 30 personnel were injured, adding that two FIRs will be filed against unknown students for taking out the protest march and assaulting policemen.
JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, general secretary Satish Yadav and former JNUSU president N Sai Balaji were among several detained and allegedly taken to Delhi Cantt, Kalkaji and Badarpur police stations — where they claimed they were beaten up.
After nearly eight hours of protest, JNUSU office-bearers were finally allowed to meet HRD Joint Secretary G C Hosur. “We submitted our memorandum, demanding a complete roll back of the hostel manual. He (Hosur) said we would be allowed to meet members of the (high-powered) committee appointed (to look into the issue) Wednesday,” said Ghosh.
While the JNU administration announced some relief to BPL (below poverty line) students while clearing the hike, JNUSU demanded a complete rollback.
In the hours building up to the protest, which began around 12 pm, roads to JNU were barricaded and pedestrian entry restricted. Heavy police and CRPF presence was also witnessed outside campus. Students, however, broke through the barricades at the main gate and marched towards Ber Sarai.
Outside Kendriya Vidyalaya at Baba Gang Nath Marg, even as police said Section 144 had been imposed, students broke through the second set of barricades. This led to clashes with police.
Around 1.45 pm, students decided to deviate from the planned route and marched through Munirka village. They reached Safdarjung Tomb at 3.30 pm, where the first round of lathicharge took place after some students attempted to break barricades. Students then sat on the main road, singing songs, while negotiations between JNUSU and police continued.
Addressing the crowd, JNUSU vice-president Saket Moon said, “We have decided not to move till our detained comrades are brought back. We also want the HRD Ministry to state in its notification that till the committee doesn’t submit its report, the new hostel manual should be kept in abeyance.”
As news of injuries spread, the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) arrived at the spot around 6.30 pm. Police continued to make attempts to disperse students. “It has been enough time here. Chup chaap side se nikal jao. AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital routes have been blocked because of your protest,” said Special CP, Law & Order (South) R S Krishnia, who was met with boos.
Around 7 pm, Ghosh and Yadav were brought back. “… Many women students were detained by male policemen, including me. I was hit in abdomen,” Ghosh alleged, adding, “We will continue our strike, we are not going to be scared by this.”
JNUSU announced it would be going to meet MHRD officials, but did not ask students to disperse. Streetlights were soon switched off and a second round of lathicharge took place, after which over 50 personnel escorted students to INA Metro station.
In a statement, police said students had shown “aggressive defiance to their directions” but denied use of lathicharge.