While the collective power of the youth and all its virtues was being extolled by the Gujarat Chief Minister inside the gates of the Shri Ram College of Commerce here on Wednesday, a large crowd of slogan-shouting youth were being water-cannoned right outside.
Holding black flags and shouting anti-Modi slogans, the protestors were stopped at a distance from the college gates through three tiers of heavy police barricades. At about 5 pm., in the middle of Mr. Modi’s speech, a lot of shoving and angry verbal exchanges between the students and the armed police ensured that the barricades were broken but was eventually controlled by lathis and water-cannons.
The protestors at the front of the barricades were marched to the police station while being hit on the way. "One of my male friends was hit on the head and another on his private parts. They were both detained," said one of the protestors who asked not to be named.
Her mother, a university professor, alleged that the police had behaved obnoxiously with the women protestors, making obscene gestures and passing sexual innuendoes. "The women were attacked by some who seemed to belong to the ABVP [Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad] and the police, who were supporting each other. The police were apparently particularly obnoxious, whistling at and groping the female students and beating them and the boys up sadistically with lathis in addition to water cannons," she said and added that this group threatened them with Gujarat-like consequences, chanting, "Jo Gujarat mein hua, vaise tujh me ghusa doonga" while brandishing a stick.
"All this time, the police were watching and laughing at the girls and other protestors and saying things like "Kar le jo karna hai, kya lar payegi," and openly supporting the ABVP group, who were even dancing on the water cannons as they aimed at the protestors. The worst is that they would pick up some of the protestors including young women and push them into a crowd of ABVP activists who would then beat them up," she said.
At about 6 p.m. a group with saffron scarves could be seen on the police side, jeering at the protestors.
Several student associations and teachers including some from other universities like Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University then took out a protest march to the police station.
A two-hour protest followed in which one of the detainees Kopal came out and confirmed the attitude of the police. A loud chanting for the resignation of the local SHO followed and the detainees were released. While the protestors said that around eight of them were detained, the police said it was only five. Around 200 police personnel were on duty.
In his speech to SRCC students, Mr. Modi said Gujarat products like milk, tomatoes and salt had captured markets across the country and elsewhere in Asia, and that this was proof that the State had pioneered successful business models.