New Delhi, November 9, 2015
The National Call for Occupy UGC was given on 9th of December, 2015, outside the UGC office, near the ITO metro station, where students have been camping for the past 50 days, braving the harsh weather and lack of amenities, to protest against the fund cuts and the WTO-GATS proposal. On the previous day, a contingent spearheaded by AISA, marched to the Parliament Street, while the later half of the day saw dignitaries like Yogendra Yadav, Medha Patkar, Kavita Krishnan among others addressing the students and cultural programmes by several organizations.
On the day of the march, students were seen collecting at the protest site as early as 9 am, where they sat preparing and planning for the march; and so were the police forces who could be seen taking cognizance of the situation.
The students observed a two-minutes silence paying homage to the late Vidrohi. Representatives from Presidency College; Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, Wardha; K. R. College, Mathura; Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak; Punjab Central University, Bhatinda; Delhi University; Ambedkar University; Jamia Milla Islamia; Jawaharlal Nehru University and several others were present.
However, the march was delayed on account of the funeral rites of Vidrohi, and started around 3:30 pm, with around 400 students raising their flags and banners and lending their voices to the movement. The contingent reached Mandi House metro station at around 4, where they were joined by a batch of students from JNU.
Initially, students were marching in rows of two but everything turned into a chaos when the protesters had to break through the police blockade at the entry of the Firoz Shah Road. With people gripped in frenzy and running across the road towards Vijay Chowk, barricades fell and all attempts to restrain students failed. Things went out of control, when some students got into a tussle with some policemen, anger seethed in as they saw the policemen trying to stop them from moving ahead.
Students were then welcomed by a troupe of some 100 policemen waiting at the end of the road, at Vijay Chowk, with lathis, and two water canon trucks. The protest by then had gained momentum, as a new batch of students from JNU arrived at the scene. Perceiving which the police had started using water canons, and when they could not subdue the crowd, used some five rounds of teargas on them.
Meanwhile, students who were getting down from the bus, parked behind the barricade, were not being allowed to get down, they were forcefully detained inside the bus, and later when they tried to get down, they were beaten up with lathis. It was during this particular incident that some policemen used lathis on female students who were getting down from the bus, later there were reports of one of them having received severe injuries on her head.
The spate of water cannon shots continued, however not succeeding in dispersing the crowd. Some 6 people were injured, who were immediately rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital nearby. A girl was hit by the teargas shell, and fell unconscious, while several others were affected badly.
On observing no way around the barricades, the drenched students sat down on the street, sang songs, and continued sloganeering, while rumours of around thirty five students of having been detained got around.
There was a slight confusion, as some of them wanted to stay at the spot and continue protesting, while others urged people to head towards the Sansad Marg police station. It was at around 5:15 pm that the protesters decided to march to the police station, negotiations for the release of the detainees had earlier failed at the Vijay Chowk.
At around 7 in the evening, the 400 people who had marched to the police station decided to file an FIR, against the policemen who were alleged of having assaulted some students. A female student accused a policeman of having torn her clothes, while another claimed that she was sexually assaulted during the lathicharge. While, a policeman was heard commenting “agar ladkiyaan protest mein ayengi, toh kapde toh fatenge hi.” Disruptions followed, while the police seemed reluctant to register an FIR.
At 8 pm four professors from DUTA including Nandita Narain and Madhu Prasad arrived at the premises, to assist the students, later D. Raja (CPI), an MP from Tamil Nadu who was already a part of the protest also tried to intervene.
The FIR was finally taken, following which the alleged victims were taken for a medical examination, the matter is supposed to be taken up by a special coordination committee at the UGC. Students could be seen outside the hospital, with the alleged victims, till as late as midnight.