Nearly 20 students of the All India Students’ Federation (AISF), from across the country, were left injured after the Delhi Police allegedly lathicharged protesters near Jantar Mantar on Tuesday afternoon.
With a list of demands on education, these students, along with other members of the students’ organisation, were marching to Parliament from Ramlila Maidan when the incident took place.
Students said their demands included free education for all till post-graduation, students’ elections in every college and safety for women.
Aparajitha Raja, the daughter of Rajya Sabha member D Raja and a student at School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), was among those injured. “My arm was injured in the lathicharge. We were near Jantar Mantar, trying to go towards the Parliament Street police station when the incident took place. The road near Jantar Mantar was not supposed to be blocked. It was supposed to be open to the protesters. But police tried to stop us. We broke the first barricade and as some us were jumping across, police lathicharged,” she said.
The injured students, including AISF national president Vali Ullah Kadri, were taken to Ram Manohar Lohia and LNJP hospitals, protesters said.
According to the protesters, police were “indiscriminately using lathis”. Aparajitha said, “Police were quite ruthless. There was an indiscriminate use of lathis. Several women comrades got hurt.”
Police, on the other hand, denied the use of lathis on the protesters, stating that water cannons had been used to control the situation.
A senior police officer said, “After the protesters got violent and started to break the barricades, we had to use water canon to control them. The protesters along with the deployed policemen sustained minor abrasions in the scuffle. There was no lathicharge, as many students have claimed.”
Police sources said D Raja had approached police and requested them not to detain the students. “The MP said the students had hardly ever gone on protests and that they should be let off. No one was detained,” a police officer said.
However, students insisted that police had lathicharged them.
“We were raising the issue of commercialisation of education. Around 11.30 am, we started marching from Ramlila Maidan to Parliament. Police lathicharged on us at 12.30pm,” Durgesh, another AISF member from JNU, said.
Durgesh said, “Comrades from across the country — Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat — had come to Delhi for the protest. After the lathicharge, a public meeting was conducted at the spot. D Raja attended the meeting. We requested him to raise our issues in Parliament.”