11 detained at protest against DU action over BBC film

The university administration said the students had not sought permission for the protest; the students accused the police of manhandling them

March 25, 2023 03:06 am | Updated 03:06 am IST - New Delhi

The protests that took place on January 27 during the screening of the BBC documentary The Modi Question at Delhi University.

The protests that took place on January 27 during the screening of the BBC documentary The Modi Question at Delhi University. | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

As many as 11 Delhi University students were detained on Friday at a protest against the administration for debarring two students from exams, who allegedly attended the screening of a BBC documentary on the campus in January.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Sagar Singh Kalsi said the students, demonstrating near the Vivekananda statue at the DU Faculty of Arts, were removed to maintain peace at North Campus. No FIR has been registered in the matter so far, he added.

The protesters have alleged they were manhandled by the police. DU Proctor Rajni Abbi told The Hindu that the students did not seek permission for the demonstration and such indiscipline will not be tolerated.

January 27 screening

Earlier this month, the university barred two students, including a Congress student wing leader, for a year for allegedly attending a screening of The Modi Question, a BBC documentary on the 2002 Godhra riots, on the campus on January 27.

According to a DU memorandum dated March 10, the two students will not be allowed to take any university or college or departmental examination during this period.

Six other students allegedly involved in the screening have been given minor punishment, an official had said, while indicating that more students might be implicated.

‘Nexus exposed’

Mr. Kalsi said there was concern over Friday’s protest breaching peace in the area. “The university authorities had intimated the same. The protesters were peacefully removed from the area. The situation remained normal after that,” he added.

In a statement, the All India Students’ Association (AISA) said, “This impunity given to the police in Delhi University is ever expanding, which poses a larger threat to campus democracy. The nexus of the Delhi police and the BJP-RSS backed college administration stands exposed.”

The students’ body on Twitter shared videos showing security forces dragging, removing and pushing students at the demonstration.

AISA Delhi president Abhigyan said the protesting students, many of whom have been taken to the Burari police station, were on an indefinite strike against the “draconian” action of DU authorities.

Ms. Abbi said the students were protesting at the Faculty of Arts without informing the police. “The students have to inform the police regarding such gatherings. This was communicated to the students earlier as well. They protested under the Vivekananda statue thinking the police will not take any action, but this will not be tolerated,” she added.

While Mr. Abhigyan said AISA will carry out an indefinite strike soon, Ms. Abbi warned that action will again be taken if students do not seek permission.

DTF chief condemns action

Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF) president Nandita Narain said, “The DTF strongly condemns and protests against the unfair targeting and victimising of some students by the DU administration for ostensibly screening a documentary that questions the official narrative on the current PM’s widely disputed record in ensuring human rights and protection of minorities. This unjust move is legally questionable, morally reprehensible and constitutes a betrayal of educational institutions as forums for the widest debates and expression of diverse ideas and viewpoints.”

NREGA event stopped

Meanwhile, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a collective of workers platforms and trade unions, on Twitter said the police on Friday abruptly stopped a discussion planned at the Faculty of Arts on the “ongoing attack on the NREGA by the central government”.

The collective had on Thursday announced that the programme will be held at Gate no. 4 of the Faculty of Arts. Economist Jean Dreze, Richa Singh of Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, Somnath of Jan Sangharsh Manch as well as DU students were scheduled to participate.

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