Tale of two Delhi Police responses

Delhi Police

New Delhi,┬áIn an incident reminiscent of then Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar directing his force to unleash water cannons and tear gas on the protesting youth in the aftermath of the gruesome Nirbhaya gang-rape case in December 2012, Delhi Police on Monday came down heavily on the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) demanding “complete rollback” of the recent hostel fee hike.

The police action caused injuries to many students, many of whom had blood streaming down their faces — for their part, the police said many among them were injured in the clashes.

Hundreds of students were stopped by the police on Monday near the JNU campus soon after they began marching towards the Parliament. The protests brought traffic in the area to a standstill.

In response, the police lathi charged and beat up the protesting students, including visually-impaired students.

Just 10 days ago, the same police personnel protested after they had clashed with lawyers in Delhi’s Tis Hazari court premises.

Many JNU students and academia have now started questioning, “Were the cops who thrashed the students venting their spleen for being beaten up by the lawyers?”

On Monday, a visually impaired student, Shashi Bhushan Pandey, who was taking part in the march to the Parliament, was roughed up by Delhi Police personnel following which he had to be taken to the AIIMS trauma centre.

“I was taken away from the human chain. I thought since I told them that I am visually impaired, they would spare me a beating, but no. I was hit on the leg. The boy who helped me and took me to the hospital was also attacked by the Police,” Pandey later said.

“When I told the policemen that I was blind, they said, ‘If you are blind, why have you come for the protest’,” said Pandey.

The university’s visually challenged students’ forum has issued a statement in condemnation of the police action. While senior police officers accepted the fact that it was not correct, they also endorsed the lathi charge on the agitating students.

“We asked them to stop and not cross a particular point, but they kept marching and thereafter indulged in clashes. It should have been avoided,” said a senior IPS officer.

On November 5, in an unprecedented protest by Delhi Police, thousands of its personnel laid siege outside the Police Headquarters for several hours and staged a virtual revolt against Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik for not speaking up for them when they were attacked by the lawyers on Tis Hazari court premises on November 2.

The senior officers who came to address their grievances faced their ire. Amidst slogans like “We Want Justice” and “Go Back, Go Back”, senior officers, including Patnaik, were forced to leave, putting a big question mark on the leadership of the force.

Senior officers of Delhi Police declined to comment on the decision to order a lathi charge on JNU students.