Tuesday, February 12, 2013

India: Protest the brutal and unprovoked action undertaken by the Delhi Police on 6 February 2013 at Delhi University,

Please see the link below, for a petition to the Lt. Governor of Delhi, regarding the Police action on 6th February and after.
Please sign and circulate.
Thanks and regards,

Dr Karen Gabriel
Associate Professor,
Department of English
St Stephen's College
Delhi University
Delhi - 110007
Tel: 00-91-11-27662151

We, the undersigned, would like to draw your attention to the brutal and unprovoked action undertaken by the Delhi Police on 6 February 2013 in Delhi University, against peacefully protesting against students and teachers. The protest was a completely legitimate expression of opposition to the visit of Mr. Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, to the Delhi University Campus. Suddenly and without the slightest provocation, hundreds of students and teachers were brutally and repeatedly lathi-charged by the police with no prior warning. The water cannon was used on two occasions, again with no provocation whatsoever.
To the shock and horror of onlookers, many female students and several female teachers were molested, manhandled and abused with the crudest sexual language and gestures, by the same police personnel. Words like ‘kuttia’ (bitch) and randi (prostitute) were amongst the the mildest of the language used. Further, besides performing highly sexually offensive gestures like kissing, whistling and lewd hand signals, many of the police personnel present also openly groped and molested the female students, threatened them with sexual violence, in addition to beating them along with the rest of the protestors. Furthermore, the communal bias of the police was evident in the way in which they encouraged and protected some other elements present, who appeared to be from the ABVP, and who had apparently come out in support of Mr. Modi. These elements were not only allowed on the other side of the barricade, but they climbed with impunity on the vehicle bearing the water cannon, jeered at the protestors and trained the cannon on them. They were not checked by the police at any point. Many of these elements openly and explicitly threatened the female protestors, threatening to sexually penetrate them with iron rods and lathis as had been done in Gujarat.
Many of them were carrying these weapons with impunity. Instead of checking and removing these elements, the police dragged several of the protesting students over the barricades clubbed them and then threw them into the hands of these communal elements, allowing them to be viciously beaten, kicked and punched. The victims of this horrifying collusion were whisked away to be detained at the Maurice Nagar Thana only when teachers and students on this side of the barricade vociferously protested at the brutality and demanded to meet the injured students. Despite repeated and personal requests to the police, by several of the teachers and students present, that they should exercise restraint, and not use such excess force, the police remained unrestrained and even openly belligerent. It may be noted that several police personnel were in riot gear and were armed with deadly weapons. Even more shockingly, in a brazen attempt to cover up this shameful and outrageous conduct, the police has now lodged FIRs against nine of the protestors (one teacher and eight students), namely Dr. P. K. Vijayan (a teacher of Hindu College, DU); Piyush Raj, Deepak Kumar Mishra, Surendra Mishra, Vishmay Basu and Chintu (students from JNU); Shafi Khan, Saurabh Kumar and Raghu Keshawan (students from DU). The FIRs are under Sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed), 186 (obstruction of public servant), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to public servant) and 353 (assault or criminal force on public servant) of the IPC. The last two are non-bailable offences.
This FIR has been lodged precisely because on the 6th evening itself protestors lodged complaints of assault and sexual violence against the police and ABVP goons. They managed to do this and get them recorded in the Daily Diary with the greatest difficulty since the police were uncooperative and hostile. Eight of those named in the FIR were among those who filed police complaints. Several other female students who had been sexually abused and molested have hesitated to lodge complaints of sexual harassment, for fear of being similarly charged or otherwise intimidated by the police or ABVP goons. It is particularly significant that the police decided to file these FIRs only after the Medico-Legal Complaint (MLCs) of the injured protestors confirmed the assault on them. Such blatantly vindictive and arm-twisting tactics are condemnable in the strongest terms, and must be immediately reversed. We strongly and unequivocally condemn this brazen manipulation and display of excess by the Delhi Police. We also strongly condemn the silence of the University administration, which is morally and legally responsible for the safety and security of its teachers and students.
It is shocking that the University administration should have allowed such a heavy and armed police deployment against its own teachers and students in the first place. Sir, it is a matter of deep concern to all of us that the Delhi Police believes it can openly and brazenly misuse its powers in this fashion, against the civilian population of the city, and especially against vulnerable sections like students. Such excess on the part of the police personnel, including the sexually explicit violence and intimidation, would be condemnable even under the most provocative of circumstances. It is particularly and doubly so when it was done to curb a perfectly legitimate and peaceful student-teacher protest in a University. Sir, we therefore request you to address and rectify this unconscionable injustice perpetrated by the very purported custodians of law. We call on you to 1. direct the Delhi Police to immediately withdraw the FIRs lodged against the nine protestors, and to apologize unconditionally for their conduct. 2. ensure that the strongest disciplinary action is taken against the errant police personnel. If such personnel are allowed to roam freely, it will send out the most unfortunate suggestion to the horrified and anxious public at large who have witnessed these events – that the custodians of the law are themselves above the law, and that there is no genuine redress available to those who become victims of such arbitrariness. 3. take any other corrective and remedial measures you may deem necessary in this situation. In the interests of the safety and security of the citizens of Delhi, we look forward to a prompt intervention from your office.

Asst. Professor
Department of English
Ram Lal Anand College
University of Delhi

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