A video which documents Delhi Police personnel brutally beating up protesters outside the RSS office has gone viral with allegations that the police had tied up with RSS activists taking social media by a storm. The one-minute video begins with showing police trailing slogan-chanting protesters. The protesters are seen shouting 'Sharam karo' (Show some shame) and carrying placards with deceased Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula's face on them.
The first few seconds show the some police personnel hovering around the protesters and occasionally trying to disperse them. Soon, it shows some other policemen, hitting some boys from the group of protesters with lathis. As the students start screaming and running away, the police personnel are seen chasing them, grabbing them by their hair, pinning them down and beating them. At times, two three policemen are seen cornering one man and beating him.
With the police, men in plainclothes are seen joining the brutality fest hitting and slapping the protesters. After the video started doing the rounds of social media, it was being alleged that the plainclothesmen seen cracking down on the students were actually RSS supporters and not police.
The video also shows a male policeman grabbing a girl by her hair, punching her and dragging her.
The video has been uploaded on YouTube by Sanghapali Aruna Kornana. She says in the description section: "The Delhi police opened lathi charge on the students who were peacefully marching towards the RSS office in New Delhi...They beat many of the students very brutally till they bled. Some Rss goons too joined in beating the students who were let free by the police. When I was taking video of the police lathi charging the students I noticed one of this RSS goons throwing a blue colour rod on the students...I shouted from behind and saw the police picking him up...When I asked the police to catch him, that person held my hand and dragged me....When I screamed out loud, to my utter shock one of the policeman rather than rescuing me, he hit my camera with all his might. Shame on the BJP government and it's RSS agenda. Down with Hindu Fascism..."
Arvind Kejriwal - infamous for his criticism of the Delhi Police - immediately lashed out at the BJP for using the city's police as a vehicle to further its political goals. He tweeted:
Del pol being used by BJP/RSS as their pvt army to terrorize n teach lesson to anyone opposing BJP/RSS. I strongly condemn attck on students— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 1, 2016
FTII, Rohith case, Hyd Univ, IITs and now brutal attack on Del students. Modi govt seems to be at war with students all across— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 1, 2016
As protests against the BJP government peaked following Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula's suicide, the government at the Centre suggested that the party can't be held guilty for abetment to suicide. Several BJP ministers at the Centre commented that Vemula -- who allegedly took his life after BJP minister Bandaru Dattatreya wrote to the university demanding action against protesting students -- is not a Dalit.
This is not the first time that police has cracked down upon students protesting Vemula's death. As protests against the BJP government at the Centre escalated, police action too became aggressive culminating in the attack on the protesting students in Delhi.
On January 18, 70 students were arrested by the police when they turned up in front of the HRD ministry to protest Vemula's suicide.
The Indian Express had reported, "As protesters began to march towards Shastri Bhawan to seek HRD minister Smriti Irani’s intervention in the issue, police imposed Section 144 and barricaded the road. When protesters tried to overthrow the barricades, police used 16 rounds of water cannons to stop them. Some students were allegedly injured. Police said close to 70 protesters were detained in four buses and taken to the Parliament Street and Mandir Marg police stations. They were finally let off around 8 pm, after CPI leader D Raja and CPM leader Nilotpal Basu intervened."
Starting that day, police have been detaining students almost everyday in various parts of the country for protesting against the government. A timeline prepared by Scroll shows that in ten separate incidents beginning 18 January, police have detained several hundred students, most of them Dalits, from Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Punjab.
In an article in The Caravan magazine website, journalist Rahul M recounts how he was beaten up for covering the protests in front of the RSS headquarters on Saturday. While recounting the incident, he writes how the police had split the protesters in two groups and merely dispersed them in the front of the crowd, where more TV cameras were present.
Rahul was himself at the back of the crowd, where he alleged, he was beaten up and his camera smashed. He writes, "Most of the news cameras were covering the protestors at the front, where the police was more careful and less aggressive. Towards the back, the policemen had created a sort of Padmavyuha, or a cul-de-sac, where they circled around the protestors to isolate and assault them. Male policemen manhandled the female students, dragging and pushing them, scenes that I was about to capture with my camera. This was when the police attacked me. Vikas Kumar, a photographer from Catch News, whose camera was also broken witnessed the police striking me. He told me later that he had heard a turbaned officer give his colleagues the orders to smash cameras."
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