The wrestlers’ protest at Jantar Mantar was brutally crushed by the Delhi Police today while PM Modi was inaugurating the new Parliament building just a few kilometres away from the protest site.
Since morning, the protest site and the area nearby areas saw a heavy police deployment. All the gates leading to the site were heavily guarded by the Delhi Police personnel. Several mediapersons were kept away from the protest site. The police informed reporters that only PIB-accredited press was allowed to go inside – which resulted in the exclusion of a huge chunk of digital media.
However, around 11 am, the wrestles started moving towards the new Parliament building. Consequently, the Delhi Police started detaining the protesters, pushing them inside the buses which were present at the site.
Geeta Chaudhary from Bhartiya Kisan Union spoke with NewsClick while she was being detained. She alleged that the police manhandled the wrestlers including women.
Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia – who have been among the ones spearheading the protest – were also taken into custody along with several activists from All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).
Malik could be seen being dragged by the police while she was raising slogans.
Mandeep, one of the wrestlers, alleged that her clothes were torn apart and her already fractured hand got injured in the kerfuffle.
After all the wrestlers were detained, the Delhi Police also wound up their tent and closed the site for media access.
According to the police personnel, the detainees were sent to multiple locations including Kapashera and Jajjhar.
NewsClick spoke with a few other people who had come to express solidarity with the wrestlers but were stopped by the police.
Madhu Prasad, a former professor at the Delhi University, who had come to extend support said that the BJP is the new ruler and doesn’t see itself as the government. “For them, this is a king’s rule,” she said.
“Civil liberties in this country are on a decline since this government has come to power. This brutal assault on protesters and dissent in general has validated this fact,” said Prasad.
She also questioned the politics behind keeping the accused, Brij Bhushan Singh, safe amidst such a huge protest.
Farmers Detained at Singhu Border, JNU Students ‘Prevented’ from Joining Wrestlers
Amid heavy deployment of police, jawans, and paramilitary forces, 100 farmers who tried to enter Delhi from the Singhu border were detained by Haryana Police.
Tejvir Singh from Bharatiya Kisan Union (Shahid Bhagat Singh) said that they could apprehend a massive crackdown by the police and administration in Ambala after officials from the intelligence wing “started calling farmers’ leaders about the mahapanchayat”.
Talking to NewsClick, he said, “The deras suddenly announced that there would be huge langars on Sunday. It is not a coincidence. So, we found it very difficult to find buses. We had to call buses from Punjab and Kalka to take people to Delhi. Then we started receiving calls from intelligence officers enquiring about our plans and the extent of mobilisation. Social media handles were closely monitored. Our buses were stopped at Manjit Sahib Gurudwara in Ambala. Other leaders were raided too.”
Singh added that the children in the family were particularly frightened as they did not know anything about the ongoing movement to seek justice against sexual harassment.
Ranjit Singh Raju, secretary of Ganna Kisan Sangharsh Samiti Rajasthan, said that he had been consistently getting calls from farmer leaders about “run and chase”. He opined that the police and administration have not learnt anything from the farmers’ movement. “They do not know that youths have joined the movement and there will be a sea of people on the streets soon.”
He added that the farmers are on the streets as they share the pain and misery of women wrestlers who are seeking justice against sexual harassment. “Had Modi listened to them, we would not have been on the streets. It is clear that he does not consider them daughters of India,” said Raju.
Pavel Kussa from Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta Ugrahan told NewsClick that they have organised a large assembly in Chandigarh to express solidarity with women wrestlers. “We will be mobilising people from across Punjab to tell them how democracy was butchered in the name of the new parliament.”
Gaurav Rajpurohit, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Sonipat told NewsClick, “The farmers were detained after they tried to stage a protest at National Highway 48. We have taken them into preventive detention and they will be questioned about the intent of the protest. So far, no places have been designated as temporary jails.”
Several Students leaders from Jawaharlal Nehru University too alleged that they were taken into custody from the gate of the institute itself when they were going out to extend solidarity to the wrestlers.
Madhurima, an AISA activist, said, “I was physically restrained just as I stepped outside the JNU main gate. The female police gheraoed me and tried to intimidate me by taking videos from their personal phones. There is heavy police deployment in and outside JNU to stop students from going to Mahila Panchayat”.
Aishe Ghosh, president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, told NewsClick that the police officials asked them not to let any student go outside the exit gates of the university. “Several students and even teachers were detained at Vasant Kunj police station. It is sheer irony that the inauguration of the new Parliament building is being celebrated as a festival of democracy; whereas, the democratic rights of citizens do not matter in the eyes of this government!”
Tikri Border Transformed into a ‘Camp’
Following in the footsteps of Singhu and Ghazipur, Tikri Border witnessed a dramatic transformation into a fortified camp today, employing imposing barricades, massive stones, and significant deployment of police forces. The motive behind this imposing display was to deter a group of women farmers who had planned to journey from Tikri Border to Delhi in solidarity with the wrestlers staging a protest at Jantar Mantar. However, the police authorities denied them entry, preventing their passage across the border.
Undeterred, the farmers at Tikri Border held a protest, raising strong slogans against the Modi government and the Khattar government in Haryana. They reiterated the demand for the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The farmers stated that they would continue their protest until the authorities take action, and they will only stop when Brij Bhushan is arrested.
As the farmers’ protest grew more intense, the police responded by arresting everyone involved. The farmers were taken into custody and transported to the Mahila Shahar police station in Bahadurgarh.
(With inputs from Ravi Kaushal and Ravi Dubey)