Social activist and writer Arundhati Roy was told to “get out of the campus” by activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, who, alleging that Delhi University was being used to spread anti-national sentiments by “Left groups calling meetings on false pretexts”, chanted slogans throughout the three-hour meeting which saw senior advocate Prashant Bhushan and some other activists make speeches against the recent police raid on Prof. Saibaba’s house on the allegation that he had “naxal” links.
The meeting, “Police repression on teachers and students”, started to get more than claps when, an hour into the speeches, some members from the ABVP barged their way into the enclosure in front of the Arts Faculty gates where the meeting was happening and tried to reach the area where the speakers were sitting. They were pushed back by activists from the All India Students’ Association, before a contingent of police personnel swung into action, bundling the majority of them, including the DUSU president and joint secretary into waiting vans.
“The attitude of the Delhi Police was highly deplorable. As soon as we started raising slogans, the police arrested around 40 to 50 of our activists and took them to the Civil Lines police station where they were detained for more than four hours. It is highly condemnable that we were not allowed to protest peacefully while the “naxal” supporters gave anti-national speeches and raised anti-national slogans but the police stood there to protect them,” claimed Saket Bahuguna of the ABVP.
Even after most of the ABVP activists had been taken away, around a dozen remained at the meeting venue. They kept shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” which was met with an equally loud “Inquilab Zindabad” by the AISA activists.
While Ms. Roy spoke about how the State machinery sought to repress the voices of tribals and the poorest of the poor from reaching the urban centres, she was also very clear that the raid on Prof. Saibaba’s house was only the beginning of an “Operation Greenhunt” where all those who spoke up for the rights of those living in the forests would be hunted down. She said in the raid on Prof. Saibaba’s house, “his personal things were taken away and the police did not allow students and teachers to bear witness that the police personnel were themselves not carrying anything on their person before starting the search”.
Ms. Roy said the police had “brought two illiterate people and made them witnesses. The police came with a false warrant. Prof. Saibaba is mainly being hounded for the fact that he is a good organiser. He was organising an international tribunal to listen to the stories of Adivasis.”
“Inquilab Zindabad,” she ended before being escorted by a heavy contingent of policemen to her waiting car.