I am an M Phil research scholar, from the department of English, School of Humanities and I am one of the arrested students in connection with the protest against the VC of UoH (University of Hyderabad). I belong to a minority community of West Bengal. My family is financially backward. Here I would like to narrate the police brutality on me and my fellow victims in police van on the way from UoH to Miyapur Police Station on March 22.
Before coming to UoH I was naive about the problems in society. I had no idea of the pathetic and dehumanised condition of the Dalits and the adivasis. I was hardly aware of the dangerous consequences of caste system in Indian society. But after coming to UoH I began to understand the real picture of the caste system which leads to utter discrimination and dehumanisation of the Dalits.
I saw that the caste system makes the lives of Dalits extremely miserable. Realising my responsibility as an independent and right-thinking citizen of this country I found that the caste system is a tool of dehumanisation and therefore it must be annihilated. I stood against this discrimination of the caste system and thus, I aligned with the movement which Rohith Vemula was part of.
Rohith Vemula, being a Dalit, was institutionally discriminated and was forced to take his own life. The university’s vice-chancellor, Appa Rao Podile directly perpetrated the institutional social boycott against the five Dalit students including Rohith. Following the suicide of Rohith, the VC was booked under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act according to whose provision the accused must be arrested within 24 hours from the lodging of FIR.
However though the FIR was lodged on January 18, 2016 till date he has not been arrested. This is a gross violation of the constitutional provision. Instead, he returned to the university and attempted to illegally reclaim his ‘vice chancellorship’ early morning on the March 22.
On the same day, I went to attend a pre-submission seminar in the department of English, School of Humanities, at around 2.00pm. Coming out of the department at around 3.00 pm, I saw that the peacefully protesting women and men teachers and students were being dragged and beaten up mercilessly by the police. The police were chasing and lathi-charging the protesters indiscriminately. It was revolting to see that the protesters were being beaten up for raising their voice against injustice.
It was a day of police violence on democratic and peaceful protesters. But it was most painful to see women students and teachers being mercilessly beaten up by the police. They were thrashed on their private parts. I also witnessed a female teacher being manhandled/molested by the police.
It was a day of police violence on democratic and peaceful protesters. I saw one student losing consciousness and he was rushed to a hospital. Many students got their clothes torn due to the brutal manhandling and lathi-charge. But it was most painful to see women students and teachers being mercilessly beaten up by the police. They were thrashed on their private parts. I also witnessed a female teacher being manhandled/molested by the police.
It was a violation of women’s rights, as women students and teachers were molested by the male police. Dr Tathagata Sengupta, an assistant professor of mathematics was beaten up too. It was a threatening moment in my life. I never saw such police violence in front of my own eyes. I could not restrain myself from speaking against the police and as a result I was the next to be assaulted.
However, the police brutality actually began when one teacher, one film maker and the 16 students including me were chased and dragged into a police van. I was standing near the ‘Goodwill canteen’ which is around 250 metres away from the VC`s lodge where the protests were happening. From where I was standing, I could see students and teacher being dragged into the police van. But I never thought that I would also be a victim of the police brutality.
Suddenly, one police man chased me and caught the collar of my shirt. I pleaded not to apprehend me as I did not commit any crime except the fact that I stood for the justice for Rohith and supported the students’ movement for justice. I feel that I was targeted because I questioned the police on their face why Rohith did not get justice even after more than three months; why the accused for Rohith’s murder have not been punished; on what ground the VC has come to take charge of the university. In response, I was beaten up, thrashed hard and pushed into the police van.
This inhuman and brutal torture continued on all of us for around 50 minutes on the way from UoH to the Miyapur police station. Dragging me into the van the police forcefully pushed me into a corner seat. Before getting hit I quickly looked at a fellow victim Subhadeep Kumar and asked him what might happen to me as for the first time my life I got into a police van. He assured me that nothing will happen as I did not commit anything wrong.
I could not turn my face to have a look at the rest of the victims in the van, because again the police hit me on my shoulder. I pleaded with them but the police pulled my hair and punched me hard on my back. Another policeman rushed towards me, snatched my mobile and spectacle. But when I pleaded with him to give me back the spectacle as I have a serious eye problem, the policeman boxed me on my right eye, asking why despite being visually challenged I spoke against the police.
Whenever I tried to look at my fellow companions who were beaten up black and blue, the police hit me and cowed me down, so that I could not raise my head again. I heard my fellow students shrieking in pain as they were mercilessly thrashed. Those who had beards and ‘looked like Muslims’ were beaten up specifically, as the police suspected them to ‘like’ the terrorists.
The sound of slapping and hitting still haunts my mind and I feel the pain. Professor K Y Ratnam was also a victim of the police brutality. A filmmaker, Moses Abhilash too was an unlucky victim of the brutality. Abhilash was video shooting the police lathicharge which they did not want the public to see.
The police beatings left wounds on my body. When I requested for water they gave it to me only to beat me up again. The physical assault was extremely systematic and cruel. At that moment I doubted whether I was at all a human being.
While beating us, the police also unleashed a torrent of filthy verbal abuse against all of us. During the journey of police brutality from the UoH to Miyapur P. S., the police were continuously abusing us with the most vulgar and objectionable language. “Madar…., behen…., chu…., bhos….” etc were the words they were throwing at us.
While beating us, the police also unleashed a torrent of filthy verbal abuse against all of us. During the journey of police brutality from the UoH to Miyapur P. S., the police were continuously abusing us with the most vulgar and objectionable language. “Madar…., behen…., chu…., bhos….” etc were the words they were throwing at us. They called us Pakistani ISI agents and alleged that we were spending Indian money and supporting Pakistan and threatened us to send us to Pakistan. They called us anti-national alleging that we are conducting, “beef festival”, “kiss of love”, events on Afzal Guru, Yakub Memon.
They said that they were taking revenge on us for the hard time they had on duty. They also insulted the memory of our departed friend Rohith Vemula saying that he was a ‘bastard’, ‘spoiled child’, that people were unnecessarily paying attention to his death.
They used extremely anti-women, derogatory and sexist comments. They said that they would rape our mothers and sisters, vowed to bring them before us and take their naked videos. They also threatened to do the same with our women friends in the university. Hearing these comments I feel that the safety of women is at great risk and I also feel that the posting of police poses a direct threat to women teachers, students and workers on the campus. Their comments and attitude were dangerous as far as the safety and security of women is concerned. It is appalling how the police remarked against women.
After the brutal torture in the police van we were subjected to harassment in Miyapur police station. After reaching there all of us were made to sit in a dirty and cramped corridor. The police humiliated us by making our respected teacher Prof K Y Ratnam sit on the same dirty floor. The police lectured us about moral and ethical correctness. They behaved with us very rudely while taking our detailed information and pictures.
On asking about our release the police told us that everything is in hand of their “BIG BOSSES”. They also said that the Gachibowli police have already decided our fate. They kept us awake throughout the night by keeping the lights on in front of our eyes and playing songs and videos. When we requested them to let us sleep they laughed at us.
The next day, a sub-inspector of Miyapur P.S. called me for interrogation. He took down all the information in detail, including details of my family members and relatives. He also took photos of my PAN, Aadhaar and university ID cards and the contact numbers of my relatives by checking my mobile phone. He abused me repeatedly and threatened that in future if something happened in the university, I will be a target even if I do not commit any crime.
Thereafter, we were secretly taken to Balanagar police station where we were again harassed physically and mentally. The police made us sit in a dirty and suffocating room. Professor Ratnam was again humiliated by making him sit at the feet of a policeman who was sitting on a chair and giving us pedantic lecture on nationalism and education, about how we should develop our society etc. This was the same sub-inspector of Miyapur P.S. who had abused me in vulgar language.
He chuckled and lied to me when I asked him where we were being taken to. He also mocked me by calling me “team leader” and “mastermind”. I don’t know his motive for using these terms. But I am apprehensive that it is because of my Muslim identity that he was targeting me. I was also not allowed to inform my worried family or friends about my whereabouts.
From Balanagar P.S. we were secretly taken to the Government Area Hospital. I had wounds and pain caused by the police brutality the previous day. But I had no reason to expect any medical treatment. In the hospital I was forced to stand in a queue. The doctor issued me a “fit to be produced at court” certificate despite my critical health condition. I also saw Professor K Y Ratnam`s blood pressure reading to touch 220 mark in the BP machine.
After the “treatment” the Gachibowli CI J. Ramesh forced me to sign the arrest papers according to which I was arrested at around 9.00 pm on March 23, whereas actually I was arrested by the police at 5.30pm a day earlier. When I tried to object, the police officer threatened that not signing the arrest papers would result in additional cases against me.
I was denied any interaction with any legal help. When I politely told him, “Sir, my career would be shattered if my future is tarnished by these police cases”, he aggressively threatened me saying, “Shut your mouth up otherwise I will file more cases against you”. I do not know how to express the fear generated in me by officer Ramesh.
I was taken to a magistrate at around 11.40 pm. But the Gachibowli policemen Naveen and Bhupathi did not allow me to appear before the magistrate to narrate my suffering and woes.
After being medically certified as “fit to be produced at court” I was again confined in the police van. It was suffocating and scorching hot. I requested the police to let me stand out of the van until they were ready to move. But the police once again threatened us. I was very hungry as I did not get anything to eat throughout the day. The police did not bother to hear any of my problems. Then I was taken to a magistrate at around 11.40 pm. But the Gachibowli policemen Naveen and Bhupathi did not allow me to appear before the magistrate to narrate my suffering and woes.
On the magistrate’s order I was sent to Cherlapally central prison. In the prison my health deteriorated further. I requested a prison physician for treatment. He gave me a general painkiller injection and some medicine for the wounds and pain caused by the police beating on March 22. But he did not give me any proper treatment which I badly needed. It still pains me to remember that in the prison the doctor was not allowed inside and therefore, I had to take an injection through the window. I also failed to get an eye checkup as a policeman had hit me on my right eye on March 22.
The police action threatened my life and also the hopes of my family. I feel helpless, hopeless and unsafe. The police has filed false cases against me and others with the deliberate intention to destroy our future and our lives.
The police terrorised us to ensure that we do not protest against the government and its agencies. They kept saying that we should only study and not get involved in politics. They wanted to create fear in us so that before protesting again we will remember the trauma of the police brutality. This poignant memory will always be haunting my life.