A visually-challenged student said he was trampled on, an ex-student received five stitches on his head, a teacher said he was kicked and hit with lathis despite identifying himself.
On Monday evening, Delhi Police claimed that “no force, including lathicharge, was used” to break up a protest by JNU students who marched towards Parliament on the first day of the Winter Session, demanding a rollback of a hike in hostel fees.
But the bloodied faces, torn clothes and lathi-sporting police personnel in the heart of the Capital told a different story.
Shashi Bhushan, JNU Students Union Councillor from the School of Social Sciences, fell on the ground during a lathi-charge and was trampled on the chest with police boots. “I said I was visually challenged, I even took out my spectacles so that the police could see, but they didn’t stop. They kept hitting me,” said Bhushan, was admitted to the AIIMS Trauma Centre.
Sandip K Luis, a JNU alumnus who was awarded his PhD last year, said: “After the barricades were broken, they were picking up students and detaining them. I was pulled by police in all directions. One of them pulled my leg and I lost balance and hit my head on the pavement. I’ve got five stitches on my forehead.”
Sudhanshu Raj, a BA second-year student of Spanish, received multiple bruises on his torso after he was allegedly “dragged face down on the road” by the police.
Some teachers who had gone to check on the students were also not spared. “I was kicked and hit with a lathi and pushed. Other colleagues were also pushed on their chest. They (police) were very well aware that we were teachers; they didn’t do it unknowingly. They said — what kind of teacher are you?” said Surajit Mazumdar, secretary, JNU Teachers Association.
Asked about the injuries to students, Delhi Police spokesperson Mandeep Singh Randhawa claimed that the students hurt themselves “when they were trying to climb on to and break the barricades”.
“No lathicharge or force of any kind was used during the protest, and we managed to handle the protest in an appropriate manner. At least 15 senior police officers were present at the protest, including two Special CPs, two Joint CPs, three DCP-rank officers, and Additional DCPs,” Randhawa said.
Delhi Police Additional PRO Anil Mittal said 100 students were detained for showing “aggressive defiance to the directions of the police”. The students were later released.
“There was no use of water cannons, tear gas shells or lathicharge at any stage of the protest. Around 800 police personnel, 10 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and female police personnel were deployed to contain the protest,” Mittal said.
However, the police version did not find many takers even among those on the other side of the fence. Newsclick reporter V Arun Kumar was hit with a lathi on his head during the first round of lathicharge. “I was standing near the barricades when the police suddenly lathicharged. I showed them my I-Card but they didn’t pay heed to it. A CRPF personnel hit me on the head, and others with me were also hit,” he said.
Police said the students gathered for the march towards Parliament Monday morning “even though they had been persuaded by police not to do so as it violates the general orders”. They said the students broke the first line of barricades, even as “senior police officers persuaded them not to as a high-powered committee had already been constituted to look into their demands”.
Police said that after a while, “students mostly seemed convinced but a group broke away and managed to proceed towards the New Delhi area through Aurobindo Marg. They were effectively stopped and contained at Safdarjung Tomb near Jorbagh, at the border of the New Delhi District. When they tried to break barricades, they had to be pushed back.”