Shutters were down at coaching centres and reading rooms in Mukherjee Nagar — one of Delhi’s largest coaching hubs — on Wednesday after a notice directing them to do so, purportedly issued by the police, and a purported video of a police officer telling students to leave began doing the rounds.
अब पूरा मुखर्जी नगर खाली करवाया जा रहा है।
फरमान जारी हो गया है कि सभी कोचिंग और PG बंद कर दिए जाएं।
सरकारी नौकरी की तैयारी करने वाले लाखों छात्रों से दिल्ली का मुखर्जी नगर खाली करने को बोल दिया गया है। PG, लाइब्रेरी सब बन्द कर दिए हैं।
क्या देश में आपातकाल लागू हो गया है? pic.twitter.com/fWQQvWtpKr
— Govind Mishra (@_govindmishra) December 24, 2019
While police claim the notice is fake and the video has been doctored, four coaching centres and three paying guest (PG) accommodation owners The Indian Express spoke to confirmed that they had been told by Delhi Police personnel to shut shop until January 2.
The purported notice, circulated online on Tuesday night, bears the name of SHO, Mukherjee Nagar, and directs all coaching centres and PG owners to keep their facilities shut from December 24 to January 1. It also threatens them with a fine of up to Rs 50,000 or with sealing if they don’t comply.
A video circulated on social media, meanwhile, purportedly shows a police officer speaking at night in what appears to be a marketplace. He is heard telling students to book tickets, head home and return on January 2, citing a delicate law and order situation. He can be heard telling them not to create a “nuisance” or participate in any protests or gatherings, stating that section 144 of the CrPC has been imposed across Delhi. He can also be heard telling them that an FIR against them can destroy their careers and that this is a “warning”.
On Wednesday, police distanced itself from both the notice and the video. “The video contents are tampered. For now, we can’t say when the video was even shot. Delhi police have written to Twitter to have the content removed,” said DCP (Northwest) Vijayanta Arya.
When The Indian Express asked her about the video showing ACP (Model Town) Ajay Kumar addressing the crowd and SHO (Mukherji Nagar) Pradeep Kumar standing behind him, Arya said, “Police officers have been going to the area to sensitise the students to not pay attention to rumours and not indulge in rumour mongering. The content of the video which shows the two officers has been tampered with. No such order has been passed by the police.”
Kumar, when contacted, said: “It is a doctored video. Two-three days ago, we got a call about students in the area shouting slogans like ‘Pakistan Murdabad’, and we had intel that they were going to move towards New Delhi the next day. That’s why we went there to speak to them.”
However, on Wednesday, shutters were down at most coaching centres in the area and classes were suspended in all.
Some had put up notices on their doors. “The coaching will remain closed from December 25 to January 2, 2020 in accordance with the notice issued by Delhi Police. The lectures will resume on January 3, 2020 as per schedule,” read a message by the management of GS Mentors outside their centre.
Students of Prudence Coaching Centre received a notice on their phones as well as a voice message from their management telling them that classes would remain suspended between December 25 and January 2.
Members of the management of coaching centres also told The Indian Express that police personnel had come to their centres, conveying these instructions to them.
“Three constables had come to the centre and instructed us to close till January 2. When we asked for a reason, we were told it was orders from higher up,” said Ashok Shukla from Bharti Concept.
Management employees of GS World coaching said four police personnel visited their centre around 11 am on December 23 and instructed them verbally, but did not hand them a written notice.
DCP Arya denied any such visits by police personnel. “No such visits have been made and if anyone claims so, they can visit the area SHO or me with the issue.”
Management at coaching centres said they do not observe a “winter break” and usually remain shut only on December 31 and January 1.
Students who reside in some PGs in the area also said they had been asked to leave their rooms during the period. The Indian Express met a resident of Aryan PG leaving the area with her suitcase; she said she had been asked to leave by the PG owner.
“Police came to different PGs and asked us to do so. A couple of personnel had come on Tuesday morning to our office and gave verbal directions,” said a member of the management.
Mukesh Tomar, owner of Tomar PG, said he even approached Mukherjee Nagar police chowki to appeal against the directives. “Students who live in my PG were putting pressure on me to keep it open because they needed to stay and study. I told them I will be fined, but they asked me to try and appeal against it. So I took some of them and went to the chowki twice. But we were told by personnel there that they have received orders from higher up,” he said.