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04 June, 2014

Police action against displaced Haryana Dalit protesters in Delhi

Kiran Shaheen writes:

It was a day when the 16th LOK SABHA  started its session with a condolence meeting to adjourn the house in the memory of  one of it's members and  minister. On the other side, 
incidents of atrocities on homeless Dalit families from Bhagana and other protesters marked the day with eviction, batons and insulting women at the Parliament street in NEW DELHI.

It was only 6 am when a thousand police men barged into the tents of the Jantar Mantar, a permanent protest site for years since the protesters and whistle blowers were banned to gather at Parliament street. The huge barricading forces people to put their sit in protest or hold the rally at the Jantar Mantar, a  site, officially granted by the Delhi police and administration. The police men came, they dismantled the tents, picked the belongings of the protesters including the Bhagana rape survivors and their families and warned them to vacate the whole area by noon. Almost more than 600 protesters, rallying for their demands since long time, were put on the roadside without anything at hand. No water, not even a mat to sit or shed to face the scorching sun. 
By 8.30 am, another news came from Hisar where 200 Bhagana families were living ourside Hisar's mini secretariat since last 2 years, have been evicted in the same manner by the local police, their belongings were taken by the police, they were thrown on the street with no shelter and yet the state government has to take steps to send them back to their village and grant their entitlement of the common land and other constitutional rights. 
By 11 am people in solidarity started gathering at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi. The protesters were in great distress. It was decided to hold a demonstration in front of Parliament Street police station at 2 pm. A memorandum was sent to the home minister and a momorandum is being sent to the police Commissioner of Delhi requesting them not to vacate Jantar Mantar as this is the only physical space  to raise voice against atrocity and repression in the capital.
At 2 pm, hundreds of men, women and children gathered at Parliament Street to protest the eviction drive. And how the protesters  at the police station faced the wrath of the police force? 
Find below a few posting of our friends in arms who were there and faced the police's brutality themselves with other Bhagana women. 
I spoke to various political parties people about this eviction and by now only AAPA has issued a statement in Delhi and Haryana both. (See below).
At the end , read an excellent piece on Bhagana rape case written by a journalist friend Neha Dixit who went to Bhagana and reported from the ground. You will feel horrible and angry at the ground realities of our rural India. 
The questions arise :
On what ground the Delhi Police evicted the Jantar Mantar when legally they have to issue a notice well in advance and that too in an extraordinary circumstances. The police in the morning came without notice and broke all the rules. In the rally they molested women demonstrators and most of them were not even wearing their badges. 
Statement by Aam Admi Party:
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) strongly condemns the forcible eviction of four rape victims and their families by the Delhi Police from the Jantar Mantar on Wednesday (June 4) morning.
The young Dalit rape victims aged between 13-18 years from Bhagana village in Hisar district of Haryana, were on protest along with their family members and relatives at the Jantar Mantar from April 6, since they have been denied justice and their lives are in danger in their village.
It is extremely shocking that instead of taking concrete steps to provide justice to these poor and helpless people, the Delhi administration and the city Police behaved in such an inhuman manner, which defies logic and puts the national capital to shame.
The AAP demands that the Lieutenant Governor and the union home ministry should take immediate steps to ensure the safety of these four girls and their families. Priority should be given to the rehabilitation of these families.
The Delhi Police commissioner, Lieutenant Governor and the union home minister should immediately apologise to the rape victims and their families for the unjustified humiliation they had to suffer.
Delhi Police and the city administration need to be reminded that the Delhi High Court has time and again made it clear that prohibitory orders against any protest at Jantar Mantar (imposition of section 144 of the Code for Criminal Procedure commonly called the CrPC) can only be imposed in emergency situations and not always.
The BJP-led NDA’s new central government, whose home ministry directly controls the Delhi Police, needs to urgently tell it that the Delhi High Court had made it clear after the December 16 Nirbhaya case that  Section 144 CrPC cannot be imposed by the Police at will.
The High Court had on January 3, 2013, observed :“There are rights to movement and speech and expression, it (Section 144 of the CrPC) cannot be used just like that...otherwise it would lead to loss of the sanctity,” the bench headed by the then Chief Justice D Murugesan had stated.     
The AAP demands that the home ministry should make it clear to the Delhi Police that section 144 cannot be imposed except in emergency situations to maintain law and order.
The AAP is of the clear view that right to protest is a fundamental right and it cannot be banned. At the most, there can be some reasonable restrictions on holding protests. New Delhi, being the centre of power, is the most appropriate place to hold protests and the government cannot put a blanket ban on it.
Statement by Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union: 
Today at around 5:30 AM the Delhi Police the people of Bhagana who have been protesting at Jantar Mantar demanding justice for the four Dalit girls and arresting of the those who have been guilty in the crime. The police removed the tent of the protestors and gave them an ultimatum to evacuate Jantar Mantar by 12 Noon. The Bhagana Rape survivors have been been displaced from their village and are protesting at Jantar Mantar.

In protest of this forceful eviction from the protest site at Jantar Mantar the JNUSU called for a Protest March from the protest site at Jantar Mantar to Parliament Street Police Station. The protest March was joined by other organization and individuals as well as the people of Bhagana, who have been protesting there. The police initially didn’t let the protestors leave the protest site, however the students pushed their way through the police barricade and marched till the Parliament Street Police Station where the Police detained the protestors.

Speaking inside the Protest Meeting held inside the Police Station JNUSU President Akbar said, ‘ It is not a coincidence that on the first day of the first Parliament session of the new Govt. all the protestors from Jantar Mantar have been evicted, we condemn this in the strongest possible terms. The people of Bhagan have been demanding justice by protesting at Jantat Mantar, instead of addressing their concerns the Govt. is evicting them from Jantar Protest. The removal of protestors from Jantar Mantar is also ominous as it signals a clamping down of spaces of dissent.

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