A year after chants of azadi echoed from the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus, which spread to other parts of the capital and led to a country-wide discourse on nationalism, similar slogans reached the Delhi Police Headquarters on Thursday afternoon.
A day after violent protests between student groups rocked Delhi University’s North Campus, a section of students reached the police headquarters with one demand. “Hum kya chahte, mere yaar? (What do we want, my friend?). FIR, FIR!” said the crowd. The protest witnessed negotiations and discussions between police and a section of students — not just over their demands but the manner in which their concerns will be addressed.
“We want to know whether an FIR was registered on the basis of our complaints,” shouted Vasundhra Jairath, a research student, into a megaphone.
As the Special CP (Law and Order) S B K Singh started to answer her query, the students cut him short, asking him to speak into the hand-held mic. Unlike the protests against the arrest of JNU students last year, which had been led by Left-leaning students’ organisations, Thursday’s demonstration cut across all student outfits. While the protest saw the participation of Anirban Chakraborti and Umar Khalid — JNU students who were arrested last year on charges of sedition — prominent left student leaders were missing.
The 30-minute-long conversation between the two groups saw students sloganeering, police explaining the procedure for filing an FIR, students offering evidence of violence against them and police assuring them of action.
“In your FIR, has it been written that Prasanta Chakraborty (a DU teacher) was held by his throat?” asked one of the students.
Another said, “Sir, this is not the first time we have seen this on campus. Earlier too, there was no difference between ABVP goondas and the police… In your FIR, has it been mentioned that women were being verbally abused?”
As Singh assured the gathering that an FIR had been registered in the case based on a complaint by the SHO, Maurice Nagar, a student asked, “You are asking us to fully cooperate in the investigation. Yesterday, we had a simple demand that our complaints be converted into an FIR. The result of this was that we were brutally lathi-charged. Was our demand unfair? What kind of justice is this?”