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A First Person Account of Police Brutality on Peaceful Protestors in Delhi

A woman who lost consciousness was denied medical care; male police officials manhandled female students.
Police brutality on Friday. Photo: Nandita Narain

In response to the call by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) to observe February 23 as a Black Day in protest against the brutal murder of the young farmer Shubhkaran Singh, and the call by CASR (Campaign Against State Repression) for a peaceful demonstration at Jantar Mantar to protest against the ongoing violence unleashed by security forces against farmers, I went to Jantar Mantar at 3 pm on February 23 to express my solidarity with the protest.

I found the entire area heavily barricaded, with a large presence of police and ITBP and not a single protestor. So I proceeded to the metro station, where I found a scattered group of about 25 students belonging to different student organisations, who had also come for the protest, along with another Delhi University teacher, N. Sachin. A few had brought placards protesting the repression on farmers and expressing solidarity with their demands. We decided to hold up the placards and march down to Jantar Mantar raising slogans.

When we reached Jantar Mantar Road, the students sat down peacefully in front of the barricade raising slogans. No attempt was made by the protestors to breach the barricade or create any obstruction. Sachin and I were aware of the police brutality often unleashed on protesting students (it’s routine in Delhi University), so we had planned to talk to the police and negotiate with them to allow the students to stage a peaceful protest for few minutes, after which they would disperse. However, before we could do so, the police, without issuing any warning, started brutally assaulting and dragging the peacefully protesting students into the police van. Before the women police arrived, I saw male police manhandling girl students and protested.

Both Sachin and I were at a distance from the group, as we were planning to go to the public meeting at the Constitution Club in solidarity with the victims of the genocide in Gaza, and did not want to be detained. However, after getting some instructions on the phone, the policemen and women came after us and dragged us into the bus.

What was most shocking was that another senior lady, 65-year-old Sharda Dixit, retired principal of a government school and secretary, All India Save Education Committee (Delhi), who had happened to come by and was standing some distance away, was manhandled and became unconscious. When I saw her condition, I pleaded with the police to let me take her to a hospital. However, the police threw her in that unconscious condition into the bus. Then they drove us around for an hour and a half, throughout which we kept pleading with them (ASI Sanjeev Kumar, ASI Subhash Chand and Constable Anita Singh) to let Dixit off along with a lady constable at a nearby hospital otherwise her life would be in danger. All our pleas fell on deaf ears. In desperation, I called 100 and the Senior Citizens Police at 1291. I got a call back from the Parliament Street Police Station and the Mall Road Police station, who asked to talk to the ASI Sanjeev Kumar, but he refused to do so. We noticed that most of the police and ITBP personnel did not have name badges. The air in the bus was pretty suffocating, and I was shocked to see that, to prevent students from sticking their heads out of windows of the bus for a breath of fresh air, the police used thick sticks though other windows to beat them back in.

Meanwhile, Dixit’s brother Chandra Shekhar Parashar came to know about the ongoing atrocity and contacted some officers in the Delhi Police.

We finally stopped at a farm house next to Kapashera Police Station, from where the local SHO took Dixit and me to the nearby Deepayan Hospital. There her BP turned out to be extremely high, 177/97. After some oral medication, she was taken to a government hospital, Indira Gandhi Hospital, in Sector 9, Dwarka, for further treatment. Around 8 pm, she and I were ‘handed over’ to her daughter who came to pick her up. I boarded the metro and reached home around 9:30 pm. We were told that Sachin and the students who had been detained were also released from Kapashera.

On Saturday, Dixit had severe body ache and a splitting headache following the outrageous trauma inflicted on her on Friday. She is planning to undergo a thorough medical examination for internal injuries and any other medical complication that may have arisen as a result of the treatment meted out to her.

Nandita Narain is Associate Professor (Retd), St. Stephens College, Delhi University; Former President, DUTA and FEDCUTA; and President, Democratic Teachers’ Front and Chairperson, Joint Forum for Movement on Education.

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