Police gypsy burnt, student injured and cop beaten up

A midnight scuffle between some protesting Delhi University students and the Delhi Police, who tried to forcibly remove them, resulted in one police gypsy being burnt, injuries to a student and one Sub-Inspector being beaten up, with the tension escalating as the day progressed on Thursday. By evening some protesting teachers and students had to be forcibly removed from the premises.

The students were on a 10-day strike demanding better hostel facilities outside the Arts Faculty campus. The police said they had a written request from the university health centre doctor warning them that the students’ health was deteriorating and to remove them to a hospital. “When all efforts to convince the students to peacefully go with an Inspector to the hospital failed, we had to use force. One student beat up a Sub-Inspector and was arrested,” said ACP Anil Kumar, who was there in front of the Arts Faculty with about 200 policemen.

A rumour is said to have led to the violence. The grapevine had it that the police had intentionally run over a student Kamlesh Mitra in the night and he had died in the hospital. Outraged students and teachers then began gathering in front of the Arts Faculty but the situation was controlled when the presumably “dead” student was escorted to where his friends were still sitting on a hunger strike. He had a bandaged forehead and some bruises on his leg.

“One student Praveen Kumar was taken into the ambulance and another friend Kamlesh Mitra lay down on the road to prevent the ambulance from taking off. I heard the police telling the driver to just leave and they ran over him,” alleged Urdu student Mohammad Asaraf, one of the protesters. The police, however, had a different version of the events.

“Praveen Kumar was inside the ambulance, Kamlesh jumped into the vehicle to pull him out and he lost his balance and fell; that is why there are bruises only on one leg,” said ACP Anil Kumar. He added that with elections due the next day, they were being more cautious than usual. “Everybody might try to gain something from this incident, that is why we are being extra cautious,” he said.

Arun Hooda from the dissolved DUSU had joined the hunger strikers along with some friends, all dressed in white.

The Delhi University Teachers’ Association also issued a statement.

“While students and teachers had gathered to protest against Wednesday night’s action, the Delhi Police ordered an assault on students and teachers alike. Women teachers were physically assaulted and molested by male constables. A student was picked up for raising slogans against the Vice-Chancellor and dragged inside a police jeep which drove him away to an undisclosed location for detention.”