New Delhi: Shashi Bhushan Pandey was taking part in a peaceful march to Parliament organised by the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) on Monday to protest against the proposed fee hike and hostel manual.
He was part of a human chain when personnel of the Delhi Police took him aside and beat him up with lathis, following which he had to be taken to the AIIMS trauma centre.
Recounting his horror, Pandey said on Tuesday during a press conference at the university’s administration block, “I was taken away from the human chain. I thought since I told them that I am visually impaired, they would spare me a beating, but no… One of them hit me from the front and when I tried to flee, I was beaten on my leg. The boy who helped me and took me to the hospital was also attacked by the Delhi Police.”
“When I told the policemen that I am blind, they said ‘andha hai to protest karne kyon aata hai (If you are blind, then why have you come for the protest),” said Pandey, who is also a students’ union councillor.
Doctors told him that he has strong bones and hence, the injuries are not that serious.
“Every university is standing with us in our fight against the bid to privatise education. The attempt is to remove JNU from all mainstream culture. The students do not crop from here (Delhi). They come from UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and other areas. Do you want to say this place teaches one to become an anti-national?” he said.
Regarding the culture of speaking out in JNU, Pandey, who is a post-graduate student of the history department, said, “We protest and also attend our classes. We stick to our fight and slogan: 'Sabko shiksha de na sake jo, woh sarkar nikammi hai, jo sarkar nikammi hai, who sarkar badalni hai (the government that can’t give affordable education is useless, and useless governments must be changed).”
The university’s visually challenged students’ forum has also issued a statement in condemnation if the Delhi Police’s action towards students taking part in a peaceful march demanding accessible and affordable education for all.
“We have observed the Delhi Police has grossly violated the democratic right to protest demanding affordable and accessible education of students with disability,” the forum said.
Members of the forum also expressed shock at the way Pandey was kicked by the police on his chest and stomach and thrown on the ground. “He was also not assisted by the police personnel in seeking medical treatment for the severe injuries,” the statement said.
Stating the police department needs to be sensitised towards the basic human rights of students, the forum sought an apology from the law enforces of the national capital. The forum members will hold a peaceful protest against the Delhi Police on Wednesday.
On Monday, the department issued a statement in which it stressed that the personnel on duty were restrained in their action. The statement said that irrespective of police appeals, JNU students forced their way by breaking the first line of police barricades.
"The Delhi Police staff acted with restraint all along and, despite continued defiance by some groups of students, methods of persuasion were resorted to, and there was no use of water cannons, tear gas shells or lathi-charge at any stage of the protest," it added.
"Delhi Police maintained maximum restraint and did not use force," DCP Central Mandeep Singh Randhawa told News18. Another officer said that if a complaint is filed, the department would look into it.
Women staff had been deployed in adequate numbers to deal with women protestors. Apart from 10 companies of the CAPF, about 800 Delhi Police personnel were deployed to ensure law and order in the streets of the national capital.