Days after protests broke out at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia University over the ban on the screening of BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, students from Delhi University (DU) and Ambedkar University too protested against the ban on screening.
Around 24 students and activists belonging to the National Students’ Union of India were detained outside the Delhi University’s Arts Faculty, the police said, adding that they were released by the evening.
An officer said that Section 144 of the CrPC has been imposed in the area to maintain law and order and large gatherings have been restricted.
Congress-affiliated NSUI had announced that it would screen the documentary at 4 p.m., while the Bhim Army Students’ Federation said that it would hold a screening outside the Arts Faculty at 5 p.m.
According to Rajni Abbi, DU’s proctor, the Delhi police would take action as necessary. “No permission was sought from us, we didn’t give any, students continued to protest,” Ms. Abbi said.
She added that the identity cards of those who were detained would be checked to determine if they were students from DU. “If they’re from outside, police will take action; if they’re from DU, appropriate action will be taken against them,” she said.
Delhi Police DCP (north) Sagar Singh Kalsi said, “Around 4 p.m., students had gathered outside the gate to screen the said documentary. As it can disturb the peace in the area, they were asked to disperse, when they decided not to, we detained 24 students.”
“Later, a few more people gathered and police handled the law and order situation well. By 6 p.m., the situation was normal,” he said.
Ajil K. Binu, an NSUI activist who was detained, said, “We were peacefully trying to screen the documentary. However, we were detained by the police and the administration did not say anything.”
Police said the action comes days after similar incidents were reported at JNU and JMI over the screening of the documentary.
An officer however said that Section 144 had been in place since December to maintain law and order ahead of Republic Day. “We made several announcements today regarding the order, the students were asked to disperse, however they did not,” he said.
Earlier in the day, students belonging to the Students’ Federation of India had planned a screening of the documentary in Ambedkar University.
Yashita, SFI’s Delhi State president, said that the students and activists had planned the screening at 1 p.m. but the power was disconnected.
“Even the canteen area was shut for us to sit, the guards were told by the administration to stop the screening, and had even called the police,” she said, adding that the police requested the students to not disrupt the peace.
“We decided to go ahead with the screening even if they shut the electricity down; we put up QR codes and watched the documentary on our mobile phones and laptops,” Ms. Yashita said.
She alleged that students belonging to the ABVP tried disrupting their gathering. “They played religious songs loudly. However, we continued watching in the film in support of students from JNU and JMI,” she said.
Earlier, 13 students from JMI were released after a day of detention by the Delhi Police for protesting the ban on screening the documentary. An officer had said, “We were afraid the students might disturb law and order on Republic Day, hence they were released a day later.”