Delhi Police drew flak from social media users and politicians as a video of Delhi Police personnel beating students who were protesting against the suicide of a Dalit scholar outside the RSS office in New Delhi emerged on Monday.
The video, reportedly released by the Aam Aadmi Party, also shows a Delhi Police constable pulling a woman protester by her hair and pushing her down. Two journalists, who have alleged that they were beaten up while covering the protest on January 30, claimed that the police action was “unprovoked”.
Organised by the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, the demonstration was organised ouside the RSS office at Jhandelwala on January 30 to demand justice for Rohith Vemula, the 26-year-old Dalit scholar who committed suicide at the University of Hyderabad last month.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal dubbed the incident as Modi government’s “war with students” in a tweet, citing other student agitations like the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) row over the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the college’s chairman in Pune.
The AAP chief stepped up the attack, tweeting, “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.”
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
The opposition didn’t back away either. “Shocking attack on students. Instead of listening to them (students), now the Modi govt is brutally beating them up for protesting against the RSS!” tweeted Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi too condemned the attack, saying “The Congress would like to put on record that this government has become completely apathetic to the voice of students, in addition to being anti-Dalit and anti-poor. They have time and again indulged in crushing dissent.”
“This insane crushing of dissent by using state machinery will not go down well with the youth of this country,” he said.
Barbaric assault on students by Delhi Police at RSS HQs. Police take orders directly from RSS! Is this Rule of Law?https://t.co/O3wKvRX45o— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) February 1, 2016
The students of various universities in Delhi who were demonstrating said the video was a “proof” of Delhi Police’s brutality.
“Students have been raising their voice in recent years also but never has their right to protest been snatched like this. Every time we try to take out a peaceful demonstration, we are beaten up, ill treated and attacked. This video is a proof,” Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) vice-president Shehla Rashid Shora said on Monday.
“Many times when we have been detained while protesting, we have been told by policemen that we should refrain from creating ruckus as they have been told not to let us do so. Who is instructing them to attack on students?,” said Sunny Kumar, student and member of left-backed All India Students Association (AISA).
Will never tire saying this. The Delhi police is nothing more than a bunch of hoods with lowest calibre leadership https://t.co/h6cVlpXQ0K— Abhinandan Sekhri (@AbhinandanSekhr) February 1, 2016
Chief of Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal said the incident was “unacceptable” and questioned the absence of women constables to control the demonstration, while Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar tweeted a video of the protest and said, “Shame on #DelhiPolice for beating peaceful protestors @ March 4 #JusticeForRohithVemula ! #DalitLivesMatter #shame (sic).”
The Delhi Police said on Monday it has launched a probe into the incident that has invited the wrath of online users since the video went viral. Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi also tweeted: “DP is bound to protect freedom of free speech & peaceful assembly. Help DP & democracy by agitating at JantarMantar.”
Earlier on Monday, police had denied allegations that students were roughed up by those in plain clothes, although they have not refuted the authenticity of the video.