Delhi – Joint protest against police atrocities in DU during Modi visit, Feb 19

AISA AIDSO AISF CFI CTF DSU DTF FDS JSM KYS LDTF NOWRUZ NSI SIO SFI

Join United Protest March
From Arts Faculty, at 12 noon
19 February (Tuesday) 2013
Followed by
Protest Meeting
Outside Arts Faculty gate, 2 pm

We invite you to come and participate…

On 6 February 2013, Delhi University was rocked by two related events. The first of these was the visit to the university campus by Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat. The second was the brutal and unprovoked action undertaken by the Delhi Police against protestors to this visit, on a scale probably unprecedented in the history of the university. Modi is widely known as the mastermind of the 2002 genocide in Gujarat; as a champion of anti-people, anti-poor policies; and as a promoter and benefactor of predatory and deeply corrupt big business houses. Many in the university immediately saw the visit for what it was – a blatant misuse of the university space to promote these condemnable agendas, with Modi as their champion, in the name of lecturing on “development”. Therefore, several groups and organizations of students and teachers who wished to express their opposition to this, gathered outside Sri Ram College of Commerce on that day, in a peaceful and completely legitimate expression of protest.

Suddenly and without the slightest provocation, hundreds of protesting students and teachers were brutally and repeatedly lathi-charged by the police with no prior warning. The water cannon was used on two occasions. Onlookers were shocked to see many female protestors, both students and teachers, molested and abused with the crudest sexual language and with highly sexually offensive gestures, by police personnel as well as by ABVP and other elements who had come in support of Modi. Female protestors were threatened with sexual penetration with iron rods and lathis, as had been done in Gujarat. Instead of checking and removing these elements, the police dragged several of the protesting students over the barricades. Then threw the protestors into the hands of these communal elements, allowing them to be viciously assaulted. The victims of this horrifying collusion between the police and the Modi supporters were then detained at the Maurice Nagar Police Station. Despite repeated requests to the police, by several of the teachers and students present, to exercise restraint, the police remained openly belligerent. In fact some teachers who were advocating for the students were brutally beaten in the lathi-charge.

To cover up this shameful and outrageous conduct, the police have lodged FIR’s against nine of the protestors (one teacher and eight students) under Sections 147, 148, 149, 186, 332 and 353 of the IPC, as well as Section 3 of the PDP Act. The last three are non-bailable offences. Eight of those named in the FIR were among those who filed police complaints against the police and ABVP goons on the 6th evening. Such blatantly vindictive and arm-twisting tactics, as well as the display of excess by the Delhi Police, are condemnable in the strongest terms, and must be immediately reversed.

We also strongly condemn the shameful silence of the University administration, which is morally and legally responsible for the safety and security of its teachers and students. It is outrageous that the University administration should have allowed such a heavily armed police deployment against its own teachers and students in the first place. In this particular incident, the University’s evident policy of clamping down heavily on any form of dissent, protest or even criticism has been taken to obscenely authoritarian heights. No claims of threat to security can ever justify such fascist actions, more so when they are as motivated and false as they have been in this instance. This action has made the collusion and understanding between the various ruling parties amply clear, giving the lie to the ostensible differences between them. There is a common agenda amongst them to further the interests of a highly corrupt and casteist corporate business sector – which is exactly the agenda of the current University administration as well, in the shaping of education, research and pedagogy. The intent to suppress all progressive and democratic voices opposed to, or even critical of, this pro-rich, increasingly communal and casteist agenda in the most unprincipled, unscrupulous and brutal manner possible, is now, more than ever, explicitly on view. The University as a space where debate, dialogue and dissent must, by definition be respected, has been gradually but steadily been under attack; with the current administration, this attack has crossed all limits of acceptability. The University cannot and must not be reduced to an assembly line of stooges.

We demand:

- Unconditional apology from the Delhi Police for unleashing brutal violence and sexual harassment against students and teachers protesting against Narendra Modi’s visit to the Delhi University!

- Immediate withdrawal of fabricated FIRs lodged against nine of the protestors!

- Strongest disciplinary action against the errant police personnel!

We call on all members of the University community, as well of civil society at large, to join us in demonstrating our vehement, unconditional and united opposition to these agendas and policies, and to reclaim the University as a genuinely democratic and engaged space. Join us in demanding that the University administration apologise for its disgraceful collusion with and tacit participation in this fascistic action, and that it give categorical assurance that there will never be a repeat of such an incident in the University.