Anti-corruption AISA youth lathicharged

Beaten up nastily, and with head and back injuries, the students were stopped from marching to Parliament

Sumati Panikkar Delhi

Students and youngsters faced many rounds of brutal lathicharge on August 9, 2012, at Delhi’s Parliament Street where more than 4,000 students and youth from all across the country had gathered to march to Parliament demanding the right to “equitable education and dignified employment”, while campaigning against organised corruption. Belonging to the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Revolutionary Youth Organization (RYA), young wings of the CPI-ML (Liberation), the rally first assembled at Jantar Mantar in the morning for a public meeting, and then proceeded to “march to Parliament” towards Parliament Street, in Central Delhi.

They were stopped by a huge police force which had set up barricades on Parliament Street. The youth decided to break the barricades and move forward -- peacefully. Thus, started the lathicharge. There were no stones or missiles thrown, or any act of arson or violence by the students.

Mayhem broke out when the surging mass of young people were stopped by a nasty lathicharge, resulting in injuries to many. Some students suffered head injuries when the forces used their helmets to stop and beat the protestors. With verbal and physical confrontations between the police and youngsters, there was a state of general anarchy, even while the police resorted to repeated lathicharge for a protracted period, even during phases when the students were peacefully protesting or retreating.

Many young people were seen running for safety towards the narrow alleys nearby, while the majority continued to confront the police and SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal) forces.  “We broke two barricades, trying to move forward to Parliament, as it is our fundamental right to protest peacefully,” said an RYA activist from Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh. “But the police beat us brutally and continuously for a long time. Even when we were protesting peacefully.”

 The number of injured are said to be between 30 and 40. They have suffered bodily injuries, including head and back injuries 

“Are these forces supposed to be at the country’s borders or are they meant to be used against peaceful young protestors here?” asked an angry female activist from Delhi.

The pandemonium continued for nearly two hours after which the protestors dispersed, having conducted a meeting at the site with fiery speeches by their “national leadership”. “There was no women police present, and in violation of law, the policemen dragged and beat up our women activists and female students,” said Vismay Basu from JNU.

The police also detained the leaders of these two youth organizations. They were released soon after when other activists demanded that they too should be arrested. There was much slogan shouting and collective anger in the tense atmosphere.

The number of injured are said to be between 30 and 40. They have suffered bodily injuries, including head and back injuries. They were later taken to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital by the students.

More than 4,000 students and youth from Delhi, Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and other states had gathered for this day long march, part of the national campaign of AISA and RYA against organised corruption, corporate loot of natural resources, neo-liberal privatisation, and for the right to education and employment. Even last year the youngsters of these organisations had sustained almost a week-long “barricade against corruption” campaign at Jantar Mantar beginning on August 9, 2011.