Nearly 100 people peacefully gathered on July 14th near Hotel Claridges on Auragzeb Road to protest against the Isreal’s bombardment of Gaza.
Protesters from JNUSU, AISA, AISF, RYA, NAPM, DSG and many other civil society organisations marched from Hotel Claridges towards the Israel Embassy. The Delhi police made all-out attempts to stop the bus carrying the protesters from leaving JNU.
Finally, the bus was forced to stop around 2 kilometres from the Embassy, from where the students marched on foot towards the Embassy. On way to the Embassy, the police tried to stop protesters by the use of force and lathicharge. The police beat up activists ruthlessly and when some students reached the embassy, they were not allowed to stage a silent sit in! Women activists were roughed up and manhandled, and male activists were thrashed, leaving several injured. The protesters were forced into a bus and taken to Tughlaq Road police station where they were greeted by abusive language, use of unprovoked force and hostile treatment. Student leaders were thrashed without any reason. All this took place on the orders of the DCP.
Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, and Politburo member, CPI(ML), was dragged away from in front of the Embassy and hit on her lip by a policewoman’s helmet when she raised a slogan.
In all, nearly 100 people including JNUSU President Akbr Choudhury were bundled together in two police vans and taken to Tughlaq Road police Station. Inside the thana, Kavita Krishnan was also stopped from talking to the press, was dragged inside and verbally abused. When the JNUSU President questioned the language that was being used, he was also slapped and abused – all this in the presence of and on the orders of the SHO Pramod Joshi.
Activists from several organisations were injured, and clothes were torn. Inside the thana, the police selectively asked students with beards (presumed to be Muslims) for identity cards.
It is to be noted that, while protests at the embassy were allowed the day before, JNU students were specifically targeted, halted, beaten up and misbehaved with. The police were heard saying, inko sabak sikhao, inko mat chodna, baar baar aa jaate hain (teach them a lesson, don’t spare them, they repeatedly return to protest). The JNU students in particular are being targeted repeatedly by the Delhi police in the past month.
Two activists from AISF, who were returning home after the detention was over, were targeted outside the police station, and one of them was beaten up. This is a totally unprovoked attack on two citizens who were simply going home. It is a shame that present political establishment in India, known for its pro-Israeli stance, has not only failed to condemn the Israeli war offensive on Gaza, but are going the extra mile of cracking down on democratic protests by Indian people against this racist offensive. However, these attacks on activists cannot silence the voice for justice and democracy.
The protesters were eventually released in the evening. Another joint protest will be held at the Israel embassy on 17th July.