Friday: The Delhi Police attempted to stop the march by JNU students (JNUSU) and teachers (JNUTA) by firing water cannons and lathi charges on the 23rd. The march was a peaceful one, being held from university campus to the parliament to protest against a host of issues such as privatisation of education, mandatory attendance policy, and prosecution of Atul Johri, a professor accused of sexual assault.
As the protestors were approached by the delhi police near INA, clashes broke out. The police started using batons and discharging water canons, during which a woman journalist was allegedly sexually harassed by the police. Vidyadhar Singh, the accused officer, pushed her and repeatedly placed his hand on her chest while she was covering the event.
JNU SU Vice President Simone Zoya Khan said the march was supposed to be a historic long one. “The police made it their agenda to shield a sexual harasser and beat up common students,” she said, adding that they should be ashamed.
Saturday: A video emerged showing a female constable and a male head constable snatching a photojournalist’s camera. Anushree Fadnavis, the photojournalist works for the Hindustan Times and said she was manhandled by a group of policewomen and could not retrieve her camera hours after it was taken away. “I was clicking photographs of a student being dragged away when the police targeted me,” she said. “They kept talking about snatching and breaking my camera and I kept pleading with them not to.”
The Chief Spokesperson for the police, Deependra Pathak, said the camera may have been snatched by accident during the confusion that ensued. He added that the Vigilance Department would, however, look into it.
Hours later, the police filed a case against the protestors for charges which included “outraging the modesty of women”, while completely avoiding the sexual harassment charges by the journalist. In response, several journalists staged a protest outside Police Headquarters on Sunday.
Sunday: a woman constable and a head male constable were suspended following the camera snatching incident. Madhur Verma, Delhi Police PRO, said two police personnel have been placed under suspension. “On the basis of the preliminary findings of vigilance enquiry for the unprofessional conduct of mishandling the journalist’s camera during crowd control, one woman constable of the Delhi Armed Police and one head constable (male) have been placed under suspension.”
The Police was also reported to be using twitter to identify protestors, forcing some to delete their social media and go underground. Regarding this, Deependra Pathak had no comment.
Monday: The Delhi Police finally filed a case against the Vidyadhar Singh, the officer accused of harassing the journalist. The Crime Branch is investigating the matter and Singh has been transferred to the district lines station. JNU Students Union too filed a complaint regarding the police brutality, further alleging the policemen selectively targeted the women protestors and torn their clothes.