After 87 years it’s just the oppressor that has changed; Recalling Bhagat Singh and Police Brutality
Many political leaders have come forth to condemn this brutal incidence.
BY ALYA EKTA
‘It takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear’
At a tender age of 12, Bhagat Singh visited Jallianawala Bagh in Amritsar in April 1919, after the deadly massacre, and brought with him the blood-soaked sand.
He at the age of 15 had started questioning his father about the withdrawal of the non-cooperation movement by Mahatma Gandhi on the alleged reason of the Chauri Chaura incident.
Bhagat Singh’s deep concern over the political situation in India made him plunge in revolutionary activities at the age of 17. The blood in his veins boiled and became restless in atmospheres where oppression and slavery were common; he raised his voice against the Raj, colonialism, and imperialism, together with radical opposition to capitalism.
Bhagat Singh defines revolution as “spirit of longing for a change for the better” and the wish that the “spirit of revolution would always permeate the soul of humanity, so that the reactionary forces may not accumulate strength to check its eternal onward march”.
23rd March 1931 was when Bhagat Singh, who had survived several grueling fasts and jail terms chalked out his own path to martyrdom, He was hung by his neck until dead. He walked the unpaved road with just a group of 100 people, he was able to unnerve and rattle the Britishers the most powerful empire on earth to hitle-silther, His vaguer and dedication was able to stir millions of people.
It is important for us to recall the historical tradition of police repression against those who agitated and voiced their rights and demands.
- HISTORY OF LATHI CHARGE ON YOUNGSTERS
- BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY
On September 21st, 2017, a student from Bachelor of Fine Arts course lodged at BHU’s Triveni hostel was molested and harassed by 3 bike-borne men in the campus premises while she was on her way back to the hostel after her classes on Thursday evening. Even after lodging complaints with the Warden, Proctor and the Vice-Chancellor, no actions were taken against the accused.
The young protesters of BHU decided to go on a protest, demanding gender equality, support from BHU administration, and safety in the campus and to speak to the Vice Chancellor instead they were lathi-charged by men in uniform with no presence of women security forces. Many footages show policemen hitting the students, some were being kicked and punched, and while some of them were being dragged and pulled.
- PUNJAB UNIVERSITY
April 11th, 2017, Punjab University (PU), Chandigarh protested against the fee-hike which was necessitated because of a financial crunch at PU. This meant some courses saw an increase of up to 1,000%. The Union ministry for human resource development (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) had been pressing PU to increase income from internal resources if grants were needed.
Hundreds of students gathered outside the vice-chancellor’s office and demanded the rolling back of such notification. witnessed police using tear gas and students replying with stone-pelting. ‘HT’
- HYDERABAD CENTRAL UNIVERSITY (HCU)
On 22 March 2016, police lathi-charged a group of student protesting outside the HCU Vice-chancellor’s residence demanding his arrest.
The mass protest was organized after Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula committed suicide alleging discrimination on basis of Caste by the university authorities. The VC alleged that his house was vandalised by the protesting students, which is why police had to be involved. Many students were injured in the clashes.
- JHADAVPUR UNIVERSITY
The protests followed an incident that took place late in October 2014 when a girl from the faculty of humanities was reportedly dragged to the boys’ hostel on the campus after a fest and was molested by ten men. No arrests were made and no action was taken, even after girl lodged a complaint with the university authorities, sparking off the protests which kicked off the month of September. Many girls were dragged by the hair and groped, and male students were kicked and punched in a barbaric, dead-of-the-night police assault in order break up a peaceful Gherao of the vice-chancellor. One of the girls who was allegedly molested was taken to the Lalbazar police HQ, then to a hospital, and detained at Jadavpur police station before being released without being allowed to file an FIR. ‘toi’
In recent years and months, the Restrictions on freedom of speech, movement, political expression, and associations have increased, and these restrictions have, in turn, severely affected the freedoms of staff, faculty and students and hence the freedom of debate and discussions.
At this junction, it appears to many of us that the university is being called upon to undertake an increased bold social role, in defence of its own academic freedom and in defence of its own liberties.
Around four thousand students and teachers peacefully marched towards the parliament on 23rdof March, in order to draw attention and demand justice for the sexually harassed students, compulsory attendance requirements and autonomy for educational institutions. The ‘Padyatra’ was attacked by police near INA and was told to move towards Sarojini Nagar market, where both, the protestors and their demands were very easy to ignore. Delhi police resorted to use force in terms of lathi charge and water cannons to disperse the crowd and stall the protest
“At the INA bus stop, we were stopped. They (the police) used water cannon on us. They lathi-charged us. We were detained and taken to the Defence Colony police station,” JNUSU, joint secretary, Shubhanshu Singh said.
Two female journalists also filed complaints stating that they were groped and manhandled by the forces.
Sheena Thakur, who was one of the protestors, wrote in a Facebook post “I was in the crowd trying to help someone who was being beaten up by the police when 8-10 policewomen grabbed hold of me and showered me with punches. When they failed to bring me down one of them said ‘kapde phado iske’ and all these women went ahead to rip off my clothes. I refused to do so and made sure they saw what they had just done – stripped a woman for shouting slogans against sexual harassment.
I do not have to explain in detail how we were groped by male police, that we know happens every time”
They publicaly disrobe a woman, then charge her and those who came to her rescue her of rioting!
In the latest development, Delhi Police after brutal Lathi charge has now registered rioting case against students.
It goes with no saying that the actions taken by Police are nothing less than the cruelty of British Raj. After 87 years it’s just the oppressor that has changed, oppression and the intensity of the force still continues to remains the same. Earlier it was the Britishers who silenced down Bhagat Singh after realizing, how powerful and firm his intentions were. The Britishers could make pacts with the Congress, keeping their economic benefits in mind but Bhagat Singh was the one who if lived would have challenged the Capitalism and might have changed the world order.
Not only are we now experiencing more police repression, but greater repression in general by the state as a whole.
The way protests have been termed ‘peaceful’ in all its terms must be closely evaluated because protests are meant to interrupt people as they conduct their business, affect them as they go about their business and made aware of your voice, presence, and dissent.
Deploying water cannons and armed forces to disturb such apolitical protests is precisely how they make protests pointless. Water them down, regulate them, scare them, beat them, deny protestors access to spaces both public and private. In short, do everything possible to let as few people as possible even know that people are protesting about something.
Many political leaders have come forth to condemn this brutal incidence.
JD (U) leader Ali Anwar Ansari said, “We will raise the issue in Parliament. Fight and studies should continue.”
CPI leader Brinda Karat said, “The JNU vice-chancellor has become a chancellor of vices. A professor accused of sexual harassment has place in the varsity and being protected by the V-C.”
Nearly after 9 decades, on the day of shahadat diwas, the young, passionate and determined generation of our country are risking their lives, careers, and putting every opportunity at stake for us, so that our children also receive affordable education, so that children don’t have to study tampered, so that the democratic sensibilities of our country isn’t destroyed.
What is on the upswing now, and perhaps different, is the increased boldness, growing intensity, greater sophistication of our youth.