The Delhi Police on Thursday filed a case against unknown persons accusing them of rioting and assaulting police officers on duty in connection with the clashes between the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the All India Students' Association (AISA) at Delhi University's Ramjas College. Three policemen have also been identified and placed under suspension for high-handedness with reporters and students.
Clashes between the two groups broke out on Wednesday, a day after the authorities of Ramjas College cancelled a seminar on 'Culture of Protests' where JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid had been invited to speak, following protests by ABVP members who locked down the seminar room of the college.
The cancellation of the event by the college authorities angered a section of students and teachers who, along with a few JNU students and AISA members, decided to march till Maurice Nagar Police Station demanding action against the "vandalism." They were agitated over the college's decision to "bow down" to "threat to freedom of speech."
Khalid is facing sedition charges, while Rashid played an instrumental role in the movement against the arrest of the JNU students.
The AISA members were reportedly stopped by a group of ABVP members near the backgate of the Arts Faculty. They threw bottles and pelted stones at the protesting group before the police reached the spot and stopped the two groups from clashing further around 3 pm on Wednesday. There were also reports that the ABVP members locked the protesting students and teachers inside Ramjas College to stop them from protesting and marching towards the police station as AISA members tried to barge inside the premises to "rescue the captives."
"The students have been locked inside and those trying to come out were beaten up by ABVP goons. We tried to enter the college to rescue the students but they are attacking us as well. They have come prepared with hockey sticks," an AISA member told the Press Trust of India (PTI).
"Not only the ABVP completely disrupted the seminar, they were also abusing, beating women and even journalists leaving some profusely bleeding. Why can't the police see such hooliganism? There is adequate police presence on the campus but nobody from ABVP has been detained yet," Rashid, a former JNU Students Union vice president, was quoted by the Jagran Post as saying, adding that the "police joined the ABVP goons" in attacking her.
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 23, 2017
"Additional DCP-I Esha Pandey will conduct an inquiry into allegations of police high-handedness in the matter. An FIR for rioting and assault on public servant has been registered against unknown persons on a complaint by SHO (Maurice Nagar)," a senior police officer told PTI adding that complaints received from both the ABVP and the AISA will be combined with the FIR after an inquiry is conducted into the matter.
"In the North Campus, the unprofessional actions of a few policemen have been noticed. An enquiry is on. Strict action will be taken. The situation is being monitored. In future protests, we request the students to remain peaceful," joint commissioner of police Dependra Pathak told reporters.
Several protesters and policemen were injured in the clashes. The officer further added that at least seven police personnel, including Maurice Nagar Police Station SHO Arti Sharma, were injured in the incident. An assistant sub-inspector has also suffered a hairline fracture.
Ramjas College Principal Rajender Prasad said that he is carrying out talks with the teachers who organised the event and also requested both groups not to disrupt peace and harmony in the college. He had said on Wednesday that the decision to cancel the event was taken keeping the situation in mind even though the college is a supporter of freedom of speech.