In the wake of Monday’s unprovoked attack on several journalists in the Patiala House court complex by certain lawyers, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Delhi Police to ensure the safety of all visitors inside the complex to attend the court proceedings in a sedition case against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar.
I was one of the reporters who were attacked on Monday by a mob of self-proclaimed patriots who decided I was an “anti-national” and proceeded to thrash me inside a building that has become a second home to me in my five years as a legal correspondent.
I do not have anything to do with any political group and I was there just doing my job of reporting the day’s proceedings in court when on Monday scores of men in lawyers’ clothes created a ruckus.
The IANS’ Supreme Court correspondent had informed me in advance about the decision of the apex court to allow only five journalists apart from lawyers of the accused, prosecution, and relatives of Kanhaiya Kumar inside the Patiala House court room.
My name was among the five journalists who were allowed to cover the proceedings in the lower court.
Shaken after the unexpected thrashing I received at the hands of some members of the legal fraternity, many of whom I had begun to consider my friends over the years, for the first time I did not feel safe stepping into the surge of black coats milling around the court room menacingly, shouting slogans of ‘Bharat mata ki jai’.
The agitated lawyers had surrounded the court building and were even milling inside.
I talked to other reporters whose names were on the SC-approved list and decided that we will enter the court premises together at around 1 p.m. as the hearing was scheduled to take place after 2 pm.
As we walked into the court complex, we could see a large number of lawyers gathered inside. As we walked through the groups of lawyers, the mood seemed to change and aggressive sloganeering began.
We had been cautioned in advance and decided to stick together, trusting the police to handle the situation if things went out of hand.
At 2 pm, Delhi Police allowed us to enter the court room. We were told that we could not carry our mobile phones inside. I handed over my phone to a friend from a newspaper and went inside.
Six defence counsel, including noted advocate Vrinda Grover, were present.
Everybody entering the court room was checked twice - first by New Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police Jatin Narwal and thereafter District Judge Amar Nath, Special Judge Bharat Parashar and Delhi high court registrar general confirmed our identities.
The identity of the six defence counsel were also ascertained and they were asked to submit their cell phones to the court staff.
All this while, we could hear sloganeering outside which soon reached a crescendo. There was nothing we could do but hope that everything went off well.
Later, we heard that Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was roughed up by a mob of people waiting outside as he was being escorted to the court room.