A string of sexual harassment cases against teachers in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has recently rocked the campus. The protesters, including both students and teachers have been protesting against the university administration for its inaction in dealing with the matter. On Friday, protesters gathered in large numbers and organised a march from the campus to the Parliament. However, they were stopped by the police which later snowballed into an violent altercation. The protesters as well as a few journalists were physically assaulted by the police which left many injured. Following is a first person account of a protesting student who was slapped and later detained by the police.
On Friday, we began our protest from the university campus at around 3 pm. As per the plan, we had decided a march from our campus to Parliament street where we could meet our lawmakers. We wanted the protest march to be peaceful and non-violent which is why we had already devised the do’s and don’ts. We also carried ropes with us so that we walk in queues without disturbing the traffic. There were approximately 2000-3000 protesters which also included our teachers as well as students from Delhi University. When the protest march reached INA, we found that police had barricaded the road and we weren’t allowed to proceed further. Since we had the requisite permission, we told the police officials that we will not go back. But when the officials didn’t relent, we asked them to detain us.
It was then when the officials began intimidating the protesters. They started verbally abusing us in a provocative manner after which they began manhandling them. When they realised that were failing to dissuade protesters, they began to spray water cannons on protesters to disburse the crowd. Amid the commotion, one of my seniors got punched on her face.
I was witnessing all this but I didn’t know what to do. However, what I saw next literally shook me to the core. A female student was being thrashed and stripped by women police officials. She was in her bra when she was detained and dragged into a police bus. All this happened in the presence of male cops. When I went to her rescue, I got a tight slap which flung my glasses away.
Police then resorted to lathi-charge. Many protesters were injured including one of my male friends whose shoulder got dislocated. All the protesters were then detained.
HT journalist being beaten up by @DelhiPolice & her camera was snatched as well. Her fault was that she had captured the excesses of the police against JNU students.
Why are u silent on this Mr Verma ?
— Md Asif Khan (@imMAK02) March 23, 2018
I, along with seven other female students, were later taken to Defence Colony police station. They threatened us by saying that they’ll file an FIR against us for injuring a Station House Officer on duty. They even photographed the eight of us in custody. The cops later asked us to undergo medico legal test (MLC) which we blatantly refused. They later told us that they’ll drop us to the university campus, a proposition which we reluctantly agreed. The eight of us were divided into two groups and were taken in two separate vehicles. We were accompanied by a woman IPS officer named Sushma who kept misbehaving with us. She kept telling one of the students, “Tera gala noch dungi, teri aukaat kya hai, (I will gouge out your throat, who the hell are you?).
She also asked us why are we going to the police with cases of sexual harassment. “Haath paav nahin hai, self defence nahin aata kya?” (Don’t you have limbs, can’t you defend yourself).
This was the attitude of a senior woman police officer which completely shocked us. I asked her if she could convey the same in writing. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our phones with us because they were confiscated by the police. Otherwise, I would have recorded every word she said.
Group of @DelhiPolice personnel assault women #journalists covering #JNULongMarch , my colleague @Namita074 s CellCam damaged but she managed to film assault on HT photo journo @anu_fadnavis whose was snatched. Media once again becomes ‘Easy target’ @CPDelhi @GoNews24x7 pic.twitter.com/HiHis4KU8u
— Sidharth Pandey (@SidharthPandey) March 23, 2018
We later realised that the cops had tricked us since we were taken to AIIMS instead of our campus. But we told them that we won’t get out of the vehicles until and unless our teachers join us. Luckily, three of our professors, came to our rescue and we were taken to undergo MLC test. The officials at the hospital weren’t even willing to write what we told them. It took us a lot of effort to convince them to write that we were actually assaulted by the police.
After the MLC test, we were dropped at the campus at 12:30 am.
No action has been taken against the administration till now. What stand can you expect from the administration which hasn’t even made a statement against Professor Johri till now? There is clear nexus between the Professor Johri and the administration which is backed by the ruling BJP-RSS.
A serial sexual offender who had eight cases filed against him got bail within 15 minutes whereas we are still scared of the FIRs which police threatened us with.
– Kriti Roy, School of Social Sciences