OccupyUGC
OccupyUGC protest outside the UGC office in New Delhi against the scrapping of non-NET fellowships. File photo.Facebook/AISA

#OccupyUGC protesters have alleged that they faced police brutality in the form of water cannons, tear-gas shells and sexual harassment during their peaceful march from the University Grrants Commission (UGC) office to Parliament House on 9 December, 2015.

The situation turned violent when the police stopped the protestors from going past Firoze Shah Road.

The #OccupyUGC protest had been playing out on the streets of Delhi for over a month after Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani announced that non-NET fellowships would be cancelled. Without the stipend, financially-challenged researchers would have no incentive to pursue research, despite stipend amount being minimal.

Akhil Kumar, an activist with All India Students Association, told IBTimes India: "More than 2,000 people from all over the country had come to take part in the ongoing protest. We began marching around 3:30-4 pm towards Parliament from the UGC office, but were asked to stop by the police at Firoze Shah Road. But the protestors refused and kept walking peacefully in two lines.

"The police soon cordoned off the road with rope, beyond which stood their personnel in riot gear. Two water cannons and tear-gas shells were also on the ready to attack the students with.

"Protestors, who were at the rear of the group did not even find out that lathi charge had begun and 150-200 people had been taken into custody by the police." 

A glimpse of what has happened with us and why we want you to hear us. What happened on the 9th of December?!Students across the country greeted with water canons, tear gas and lathis when they demand scholarship.#occupyugc movement

Posted by Avipsha Das on Thursday, December 10, 2015

The protestors reached the Parliament House police station asking to file FIRs against the cops for molesting women protestors and hurting others. However, no FIR was filed, said Kumar.

"The protestors who had gone to file the FIR were also detained, and we were being filmed," he added. "However, they had to let all of us go as they had no charges to press."

Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal said: "The force was used to stop them from marching towards Parliament. The scheduled path was ITO via Barakhamba Road to Jantar Mantar. But as the protesters reached Mandi House, they started running towards Firoze Shah Road. We tried to stop them at the Le-Maridien roundabout, where they turned violent and attacked police officials."