The Jawaharlal Nehru University on Tuesday approached the Delhi high court seeking contempt action against its students and the Delhi Police for allegedly violating a court order against holding a protest within 100 metres of the varsity’s administrative block.
IMAGE: JNU students shout slogans during a press conference at the campus in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo
The JNU claimed that the students had grossly violated the August 9, 2017, order of the high court by holding a protest within 100 metres of the administrative block and affecting its day-to-day working, which has been disrupted since October 28.
It said the police also violated the court order by refusing and failing to take action to maintain law and order in the university and removing the blockade around the administrative block.
The petition, filed through the central government’s standing counsel Monika Arora, sought direction to issue contempt notice against the alleged contemnors (students and police) and punish them in accordance with the Contempt of Courts Act for alleged willful disobedience of the court order.
It also sought direction to Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik to provide assistance to the JNU in controlling the ongoing and any future contemptuous acts of the students and their leaders and removing them from within 100 metres of the administrative block.
Continuing protests by JNU students against a hostel fee hike have rocked the national capital. On Monday, several parts of the city came to a halt as the students marched towards Parliament.
The students clashed with police as they were stopped during the march. While the students alleged that they were baton-charged by police, top officials of the force denied it.
On Tuesday, the Delhi Police registered two FIRs in connection with the students’ protest.
One FIR was registered at the Kishangarh police station, while another was lodged at the Lodhi Colony police station, he added.
According to Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Atul Kumar Thakur, a case under IPC sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) was registered at the Lodhi Colony police station regarding Monday’s incident at Aurobindo Marg.
IPC sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 151 (knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act were also added to the FIR, Thakur said.
According to police, nearly 30 police personnel and 15 students were injured in the eight-hour protest on Monday.
There was a heavy deployment of police and paramilitary personnel outside the main gate of the JNU campus, even before the march commenced. Water cannons and PCR vans were also stationed outside.
Before the protest began, the human resource development ministry set up a three-member committee to recommend ways to restore the normal functioning of the university and initiate a dialogue with the students and the administration.
The protesters took out the march around noon, broke the first set of barricades at the main gate of the campus and proceeded towards Baba Gangnath Marg, where another set of barricades awaited them.
The police detained about 100 protesters, including JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, secretary Satish Chandra Yadav and former JNUSU president N Sai Balaji.
The students were ultimately stopped outside the Safdarjung Tomb, where, they alleged, the police baton-charged them, an allegation denied by the men in uniform.
On Saturday, an FIR was registered against unidentified persons over an incident of ‘defacement’ of the JNU’s administration block.
Oppn slams govt over police action against JNU students, BJP hits back
The police action on protesting JNU students disrupted the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, with opposition leaders slamming the Modi government and the varsity administration for ‘repressing’ a democratic movement.
However, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leaders expressed scepticism with Union minister Giriraj Singh alleging that some people wanted to turn JNU into a Centre of ‘Urban Naxalism’.
“The hostel fee hike is a pretext for whatever is happening in JNU. Some people want to turn JNU into a centre of Urban Naxalism. Its the same JNU where ‘Bharat Tere Tukde Honge‘ slogans were raised and where death anniversary of Afzal Guru was observed,” the minister told a news channel.
Aam Aadmi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh slammed the police action against students alleging that it was for the first time that students of the university were ‘beaten mercilessly’ for raising their genuine demands.
“It is the same Delhi Police that was complaining that their uniform was tainted after they were assaulted by lawyers. Does beating innocent students, including a visually challenged one, not taint their uniform,” Singh said.
Rajya Sabha proceedings on Tuesday were adjourned till 2 pm after opposition uproar over alleged police action on protesting JNU students in the national capital and detention of political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.
Communist Party of India general secretary D Raja said that use of police force on the students was barbaric and unprecedented.
“The Modi government and the JNU administration should understand that the students are not only fighting for themselves but also for the future of their community,” he said.
Raja alleged that the JNU administration was trying to ‘repress’ the democratic voice of dissent by the students with use of police force to impose its ‘agenda’ which was against the fundamental values of the varsity.
ABVP withdraws support to JNU students’ strike over fee hike
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on Tuesday withdrew support to the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union’s strike against the hostel manual and also demanded that the three-member high power committee set up by HRD Ministry to look into the JNU issue be scrapped.
The condemned the manner in which Delhi Police “placed barricades and manhandled peacefully protesting JNU students”.
It also said the Left Unity’s current compromise of accepting the HRD Ministry’s committee has led the ABVP to withdraw its support.
“And, this becomes the foremost reason for ABVP’s decision of initiating a parallel movement against the Ministry and the administration,” it added.
It accused the Left Unity of “continuously bashing and unleashing a series of propaganda against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the ABVP despite their constant support for the movement and demands of a joint-struggle”.
The ABVP had protested outside the University Grants Commission headquarters on November 13 to demand funds for the varsity.
“The Left Unity never recognised ABVP’s struggle and efforts in which the UGC promised an amount of Rs 6.7 crore,” the ABVP alleged.
It also accused the Left Unity of avoiding “categorical condemnation of the Vivekananda statue vandalization”.
JNU students accuse police of groping, manhandling women protesters
A day after accusing the police of baton-charging them for protesting on the streets of Delhi against hostel fee hike, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University alleged that even physically challenged protesters were not spared and women were groped and manhandled.
The police, however, have denied lathicharging, using tear gas or any form of violence against students.
Shashibhushan Pandey, a visually challenged student, claimed that police beat him up even when he told them he is “differently abled”, while JNU Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh alleged that women students were “manhandled and groped” by male policemen.
Addressing a press conference in the university campus, Pandey said, “I removed my spectacles to show them that I can’t see. Still they beat me up. A student who intervened was also beaten up.”
“My friends told me street lights had been switched off and police were beating students. They made me stand on the side of a road, but policemen started nudging me with lathis from behind,” Pandey said.
He alleged that he was thrown on the road and when he told the police that he is “visually challenged”, he reportedly got to hear, “If you are blind, why have you come here to protest”.
“India is fighting to save public education. The Centre wants to cut JNU off the mainstream,” Pandey said.
Other students also narrated their ordeal at the press conference.
“When I was detained, my kurta was pulled and I was picked up by four male policemen. Women students were literally groped and manhandled,” Ghosh said.
Another student, Sucheta Talukdar, who was also injured during the protest, levelled similar allegations. Former students’ union president N Sai Balaji claimed that a woman student’s foot got fractured during the protest as policemen stomped on her foot.
Ghosh said they are protesting a draft hostel manual which does not have clauses for reservation of SC/ST/OBC in hostels.
“It has provision for 10 per cent fee hike every year and the salaries of contractual workers will be paid from the charges being levied on us,” she stressed.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Visually Challenged Students Forum demanded an apology from Delhi Police and said they will begin a protest against police atrocities from Wednesday.
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