‘People from JNU are here. Throw them out’: When lawyers turned vandals
The violence happened before Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union, was to be brought to the court after being arrested on February 9 on sedition charges.JNU protests Updated: Feb 16, 2016 11:11 IST
We were in a Patiala House court waiting for arrested JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar to be produced when everything suddenly went wrong.
I was speaking to a staffer in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen when I heard someone sprint out and scream: “People from JNU are here. Throw them out, throw them out!”
In retrospect, it seems others were waiting for that signal.
A bunch of lawyers told everyone from the Jawaharlal Nehru University to leave the courtroom. They gave no reason for their conduct.
Sensing that things were getting ugly, some JNU professors decided to leave. As they were doing so, some lawyers got into a scuffle with them. I sensed something was seriously amiss.
That is when someone in lawyer’s attires turned his attention to me and asked me to get out. I decided to obey.
As I was leaving, I heard someone -- I did not see who -- shout “Yeh kaun hai?” (Who is he?)
The next moment, someone shoved me. Before I could recover, I was slapped -- and then again slapped.
I just couldn’t understand what was going on. There was no provocation, nothing to deserve all this.
Fortunately for me, a few lawyers at the spot recognized me and came to my rescue. They dragged me out, and took me then towards Gate No. 2 of the Patiala House Court.
The situation there was far worse. Several journalists had been attacked there, including my former colleague and now Indian Express reporter Alok Singh.
Alok Singh told me that he and a group of journalists were standing outside the courtroom when some lawyers pounced on JNU students there and began thrashing them.
“As I started speaking to my chief reporter, the lawyers attacked me too. I kept telling them I was a journalist but they wouldn’t listen,” Alok Singh said.
“They slapped me, they kicked me, they snatched my mobile and broke it. And I saw others also being attacked for no apparent reason.”
Among the journalists who were assaulted were Amit Pandey of IBN7 and Manu Shankar of Kairali TV.
When Azaan Javed from DNA showed his media credentials, he was accused of being a JNU student and flashing a fake media card.
Women journalists who were in the Metropolitan Magistrate’s room with me were threatened and asked to leave.
They were Ritika Jain from DNA, Ankita Upadhyaya of Pioneer, Sana Shakil from the Times of India and Sneha Agarwal of Mail Today.
Other journalists also told me later that they saw O.P. Sharma, one of the three BJP legislators in Delhi, chase and attack a JNU student outside the court premises.
Sharma kicked him even as the student fell on the road.
Surprisingly, despite all the mayhem, apart from escorting the JNU professors from the courtroom I was in, the Delhi Police did nothing to restrain the rampaging lawyers.
As they indulged in violence, the lawyers kept shouting slogans like “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.
The violence happened before Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union, was to be brought to the court after being arrested on February 9 on sedition charges.