"Aar ho ya paar ho, aaj FIR ho"
Students from various colleges of Delhi University gathered outside the police headquarters in Delhi's ITO to demand that an FIR be filed against certain members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the BJP's youth wing and to agitate against the police clampdown on students on a peaceful protest.
On 22 February, students of Ramjas college had taken out a protest march to the Maurice Nagar police station to demand action against the ABVP for disrupting a Ramjas College literary event which had invited Jawaharlal Nehru University students, Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid. Members of the ABVP had gathered outside the college and shouted slogans forcing the college to ultimately withdraw invitation. The organisers of the event claimed that ABVP members had pelted stones, cut off power supply and locked the seminar room.
During the protest march to the police station, a clash broke out between the ABVP memebers and students from the All India Students Association (AISA), the student wing of the Communist Party of India (M-L). Apparently, ABVP members threw stones and eggs at the protesters and many women students were touched inappropriately. A professor from the faculty of English had to be hospitalised after he was reportedly beaten up and strangled. Many journalists who had gone to cover the event also alleged manhandling while their phones and equipment were broken.
The students from Delhi University gathered this morning under a canopy of trees right outside the Delhi police headquarters, surrounded by heavy barricades and countless cops. All that they wanted was the Commissioner of Police to come out, talk to them, register an FIR based on their complaints -- against the ABVP members who had attacked them, against the cops, whom they claim did nothing to put an end to the violence, and against the brutality of the police force which, to them, seemed to be in collusion with the members from the ABVP.
"Karenge politics, karenge pyaar, ABVP khabardaar"
As the chants rented the air, their anger was palpable. They demanded that the Commissioner of Police himself come out to adress the students and their grievance. Hundreds gathered. Some sat. Some stood around. Some held posters. But all of them were full of questions. Why did the police not arrest members of the ABVP even after they were standing atop the police vans? Why did it seem like the police were reluctant to intervene? Why did they arrest the women after 6 PM? Why did the Maurcice Nagar police station refuse to register an FIR yesterday? Why did the police not do anything when faculty members and journalists were getting assaulted? Why did the police not arrange for ambulance when the scuffle broke out?
Devangana, a student of Delhi University told HuffPost India that "Hundreds of students of DU are here because they feel the university is not safe for them anymore". She said it is ironical that such an incident happened over the Ramjas college literary seminar which was on the 'Culture of Protest'. She added that the police should take action on their own, the students should not need to demand the filing of an FIR.
Umar Khalid, who was one of the students from JNU who had been charged with sedition in 2016 for raising 'anti-national' slogans was seen at the protest, surrounded by media persons, answering questions and explaining how it was important to demand strict action against the 'goons' from ABVP.
When the Special commissioner of police, SBK Singh, finally came out to meet the students, he was met with shouts and slogans and some tough questions. "We'll be very impartial, don't worry," is all he could say in his efforts to reassure the students.
"Laathi, pathhar, khoon nahi, humein chahiye azaadi...Vaad-vivaad kii azaadi"
As the voices of the young demanding liberty and freedom echoed on one of Delhi's busiest streets, traffic moved slowly. Amidst the jostle of journalists and the sloganeering, one protester was overheard telling his friend, "getting beaten up by the cops now would be glorious, almost like martyrdom".
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