Police action against student protests continued, with two incidents of detention reported from Delhi and Kolkata on February 11, 2022 and February 7, 2022.
The most recent on Friday, occurred outside the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) central university in Delhi where students demanded the reopening of the campus that has been closed for more than two years. Students said that despite DDMA guidelines, released in the first week of February detailing reopening of all schools and colleges, the college authorities had kept the college shut. They claimed most students did not want the institution to resume physical classes.
In response, students gathered in front of Gate 7 only to face Delhi police personnel. Organisations like the All India Students’ Association (AISA) the police even detained two students who were not a part of the protest.
As many as nine students were detained in batches – first, seven students and then two students. The detainees included AISA activists Naushad and Shakil.
Jamia is alive and Jamia students want their campus back!
— Neha (@neha_aisa) February 11, 2022
Even so, students continued to gather inside the JMI campus in droves and held a massive demonstration outside Gate 20 demanding the reopening and the immediate release of detained students. Students said the police threatened them with arrest but protesters entered the campus at TTI to continue the protest until the detained students were released.
“For the first time in more than two years, the students of Jamia reclaimed their campus from the Police colony it has become. The Chief Proctor was forced to relent to the demands of the protesting students and speak to them,” said AISA.
The officials finally announced that the university will open in phases and that the first phase will be announced by February 15. Students said that if the Jamia administration fails to release the notification as promised, they will gather in larger numbers to resume protests.
While Delhi protests ended with relative success, Jadavpur University students in Kolkata, West Bengal suffered a much more harrowing week with some students being detained from February 7 till Friday night. According to The Wire, the students were protesting the police detention and questioning of Dalit rights activist Sharadindu Biswas. Narendrapur police visited and searched his house on February 4 because of his two Facebook posts with allegedly anti-Hindu content. He called for a ban on all religious activities in government educational institutions, including Saraswati Puja.
Protesters called the police behaviour an attack on the freedom of expression and gathered outside Narendrapur police station. Organisations like the AISA, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) and others also attended the demonstration. However, protesters said that the police assaulted and arrested as many as 11 people as soon as the protest began. The detainees said they were verbally abused and beaten while women suffered severe harassment inside the police station.
Two women were released later in the night, but the other nine people were taken to Baruipur court on February 8 with ropes allegedly tied around their waist. They were made to appear before the court again the next day when their bails were rejected, until two more women activists got bail.
Again protests broke out in Howrah, North and South 24 Parganas districts on February 10 to condemn the continued detention of students.
— Ranvijay Singh । রণবিজয় সিংহ (@ranvijay_cpiml) February 10, 2022
Protest march in Kolkata against arrest and custodial torture of Jadavpur University students and AISA activists.
— Prasenjeet kumar (@PrasenjeetKuma6) February 10, 2022
People protested the claims of ropes tied to people’s waist, citing the move as a colonial move. Some people likened the attacks to the growing UP police aggression.
They were taken to court with ropes tied around their waists. Comrades were visibly wounded when they reached court. Is @WBPolice trying to follow the model of UP police?
Was the massive mandate to @MamataOfficial govt given for curbing democracy in the state? #ReleaseJU9 pic.twitter.com/SuFVmX69Oi
— Madhurima | মধুরিমা (@Madhurima_ML) February 8, 2022
To make matters worse, one woman released on Wednesday claimed the police hit her chest and abdomen with lathis, hit her between her legs and taunted her when she voiced worries about a urinary tract infection. The woman further said she was abused due to her appearance and skin colour.
The police on their side have denied all these claims stating that the protesters turned violent first, while police officers tried to help a wedding procession enter the hall in the common building. Regarding the rope-around-the-waist, the Officer in-Charge told The Wire that he had no idea about such an act.
Meanwhile, the remaining seven PG and MPhil students finally got bail on Friday night.
The #JadavpurUniversity @aisawb activists have finally got bail today.
The battle must now focus on action against the guilty police personnel and for withdrawal of the fabricated cases foisted on the protesters. pic.twitter.com/I6VSuPhyGS
— Prasenjeet kumar (@PrasenjeetKuma6) February 11, 2022
Police excesses upon protesting students have become common of late. Students in UP, Bihar, Delhi have talked of multiple instances where the police attacked youths demanding basic rights like reopening of colleges or employment.
While the police have dismissed the allegations as baseless accusations, the students are keen on getting justice. Nonetheless, the severe conflict outside the Kolkata police station raises serious concerns about whether the administration is slowly adopting the “UP model”.
The question is, aren’t the police officers of West Bengal’s Narendrapur Police Station following the Uttar Pradesh model?
— AISA (@AISA_tweets) February 8, 2022