On 30 January, the day Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula would have turned 27, students from different universities came together at Ambedkar Bhavan to conduct a march, in continuance of the nationwide demand for justice.
The intent, loaded with symbolic meaning, was to march from Ambedkar Bhavan to the RSS office in Jhandewalan. This was in direct alignment with the discourse that Rohith's death, which many call an "institutional murder", has set off in the country -- that of reinforcement of "caste identities" and subjugation on the basis of it.
Sanghapali Aruna Lohitakshi, a PhD student from JNU, was also present in the march with her camera, trying to document the protest march. But what her camera ended up capturing instead is a tale of brutal state violence against students, whom it increasingly, perhaps, sees as a threat. And it has created a nationwide uproar.
The 1-minute 9-second video shows Delhi Police officers and some men in civilian clothes brutally hitting the students, as they raise slogans. The students are seen trying to reason with the police and asking them to stop the attack.
In a few minutes after it went up on Facebook, the video went viral and was picked up by national media condemning the police's crackdown on students in harsh words.
The video gets abruptly cut as one hears Aruna's distressed voice in the end.
Youth Ki Awaaz reached out to Aruna, who also identifies as a Dalit rights activist and is a member of BAPSA (Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association), to ask her about her experience at the protest march and why this fight for justice matters to her. And this is what she has to say:
This is the video that she shot during the protests:
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