Complete mayhem broke out at the Patiala House Court in the national capital on Wednesday after a group of lawyers, acting as vigilantes, roughed up Jawaharlal Nehru University students' union leader Kanhaiya Kumar and journalists covering his sedition hearing, even as police reinforcements and water cannons were rushed to the premises to contain violence.
The Supreme Court extended the police custody of Kumar by 14 more days and sent a six-membered team of lawyers to the court house to assess the situation. The lawyers openly defied a Supreme Court order to the police in the morning to ensure peace in the court.
NDTV reported that shouts of "goli maaro" (shoot him) were heard as Kumar, 28, was produced at the court. Despite his strong security cover at the behest of the apex court, the JNUSU president was assaulted by the lawyers shouting 'Vande Mataram'. The attackers also allegedly boasted "our job is done", the report suggested.
However, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi told reporters an hour after the incident that Kumar "was only jostled, not attacked". A medical examination of Kumar was ordered. Bassi sought to play down the violence by saying that the situation did not go out of hand. He said Kumar made a statement before leaving the courtroom expressing his confidence in the Constitution.
The Patiala House Court directed the police to take necessary steps to prevent any harm to Kumar in custody. The Supreme Court adjourned Kumar's hearing till March 2.
"We are concerned about the law and order situation," a Supreme Court bench said when senior lawyer Indira Jaisingh informed the court about the fresh violence including the assault on Kumar when he was brought for remand proceedings, reported PTI.
The court also also said it may appoint a local commissioner to take stock of the situation. The court asked Delhi Police Commissioner to take action against those indulging in violence irrespective of their profession.
Journalist Tariq Anwar told Times Now that he saw a supporter of Kumar being beaten up by the lawyers, who were seen in television footage carrying sticks. When Anwar started to film the abuse, his phone was snatched away, the videos deleted and he was also beaten up. Among the many black coats present, Anwar identified Vikram Chauhan, a lawyer who was seen in media footage on Monday beating up a man, surrounded by his colleagues.
No charges have been pressed against Chauhan even as his action was strongly condemned by social media users who posted photos of the assault. The Delhi Police today summoned three lawyers, including Chauhan, in connection with the incident. Bassi said BJP MLA OP Sharma, who beat up a political activist on Monday, has also been summoned.
People who said "Pakistan Zindabad" have been made heroes & we are being called "gundas": Vikram Chauhan pic.twitter.com/lwjcSzuCT2— ANI (@ANI_news) February 17, 2016
An unrepentant Chauhan, seen raining blows on a man at the court premises, claimed that the media has portrayed him as a hooligan.
More security forces have been deployed at Patiala House Court premises. pic.twitter.com/gTfoCnFSJ5— ANI (@ANI_news) February 17, 2016
Lawyers including Vikram Chauhan raise slogans of "Vande Mataram" & "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" outside PH Court, Delhi. pic.twitter.com/XSWlFCFMZC— ANI (@ANI_news) February 17, 2016
This is how journalists and social media users reacted to Chauhan's return to the court, leading colleagues in their so-called protests against they labelled "anti-nationals".
Lawyer-goon who led violence against media, students is back in court with mob. Amazing. pic.twitter.com/F9nTIHaZeS— Sreenivasan Jain (@SreenivasanJain) February 17, 2016
Tariq Anwar, colleague from Firstpost says police was a mute spectator (while he was being beaten up). What signal is Del Pol sending?— Rupashree Nanda (@rupashreenanda) February 17, 2016
Vikram Chauhan, on camera beating people, leads the charge at Patiala Court again today. Boasts of pix with slew of prominent BJP leaders— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) February 17, 2016
This morning, the Supreme Court reprimanded a lawyer who shouted "Vande Mataram" in court.
"Remember the oath you took as a lawyer? Should you resort to these kind of things as a lawyer? People have great faith in this institution, please work to protect this institution," Justice Chalmeshwar and Justice Abhay Sapre told lawyer Rajeev Yadav.
Meanwhile, CNN-IBN quoted sources as saying that Bassi is likely to get promoted to become the next Information Commissioner.
The premises turned into a battleground despite a direction from the Supreme Court to the Delhi Police Commissioner to ensure adequate security at the Patiala House court complex. But members of the waiting media complained that the police were largely ineffective in controlling lawyers who went on a rampage.
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