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An ‘I Witness’ Account of Delhi Police and RAF Violence at India Gate on 23 December: Sangeeta Das

December 26, 2012

Guest post by SANGEETA DAS

[The Delhi Police has begun systematically lying about what has been happening in the past few days. We have seen spin doctoring around the unfortunate death of Constable Subhash Tomar. There has been efforts to plant generalized and unsubstantiated rumours about the presence of ‘terrorists’ amongst the crowds at India Gate. We have even seen the Chief Minister of Delhi, Shiela Dikshit and a sub divisional magistrate complain about the Delhi Police trying to interfere and influence that process of the recording of testimonies. Here is an important account by an eyewitness, Sangeeta Das, about the way the police behaved on the evening of the 23rd of December. Please note the kind of language that she says policemen were using. Can we trust the city to be safe in their hands.]

I am appalled at the lop-sided relay of events and incomplete images being telecast by some of the NEWS channels on TV, regarding the incident that happened at India Gate yesterday (this is an account of what happened on 23rd of December) at around 5:30 PM.

I was there. We were all on the other side of India Gate towards the Dhyan Chand Stadium.

I think I need to paint the correct picture for the nation. Except for CNN IBN and NEWS X, most other channels are not showing the peaceful gathering. Thus it gives out the wrong message to the nation, to the politicians, to other women that there was violence.Please pass on this note to as many people as you can and post it at as many places.

THERE WAS NO VIOLENCE NO PROVOCATION…THE POLICE ATTACKED WITHOUT ANY WARNING. I have been through section 144 earlier. At least there should have been one warning issued to us to get up and leave, peacefully, before they started hitting us.

Ms. Naina Kapur, of VISHAKHA GUIDELINES fame, was there with me. Ms.Smita Bharti of SAAKSHI, an NGO working on SEXUAL HARASSMENT on women, was there. Ms.Nafisa Ali was standing behind us, Mr.Arvind Kejriwal was sitting just two rows in front of me, Mr.Arvind Gaur of ASMITA THEATER GROUP was there asking all the people to sit down and listen to the talks.

There were about 200-250 girls and equal or more number of men of all ages. There were young girls, some children, families and some elderly people along with hoards of photographers, journalists and reporters.

WE WERE ALL SITTING ON THE ROAD PEACEFULLY and listening to the painful account, of the mother of ‘KIRAN NEGI’, a 3 yr old who has been brutally raped and disfigured and killed, by her attackers. Even the sloganeering had stopped.

Many young and old men of Delhi were standing around us in a 3-4 layer human chain to protect us from any hooligans or nasty elements. It was like a CHAKRAVYUH.

Members of the ASMITA THEATER GROUP, including Mr.Gaur, were constantly walking around the circle. Young boys and girls of his team were repeatedly requesting and talking to people to not resort to violence, not to panic or run or throw stones, not to damage public property, AND not to hurt or abuse the female protestors.

There were many volunteers distributing biscuits and water to every protestor.

We were talking to the ‘AAM JANATA’ of Delhi on how to tackle the violence on women and children starting from ourselves, our homes and communities.

WE WERE SIMPLY TALKING.

I had just finished my packet of biscuit when the police, hundreds of them from DELHI POLICE and RAF, charged at us from behind, WITHOUT ANY WARNING.

They first attacked the men from behind, breaking their CHAKRAVYUH. I stood up to see what the commotion was about, and immediately fell as most girls didn’t get enough time to stand up. I hugged Smitaji as we fell on each other and there was a stampede over us.

Some of the men from the circle ran for their lives, but most of them ran towards us and hugged us and fell on us and took the initial blows of the LATHI CHARGE.

I couldn’t see anything; I just heard the two cracks of a SPLIT BAMBOO STICK on my back, butt and thighs. Then I heard the police screaming, HARAMZADIYON, RANDIYON, and then I saw a boot kicking my knees and shin.

They hit Smitaji on her lower-back and spine. The boys of ASMITA, and some more men pulled us all up and all of them formed protection girdles around the girls to push us out of the range of the water cannons and charging men in KHAKI AND BLUE.

Visibility was poor due to fog and tear gas; many girls were hit; even when we were running away and saying, “Ham jaa rahen hain, hame mat mariye”,…. they were hitting the boys rampantly, constantly spitting abuses on the girls. Many women reporters were also hit and chased, their vans attacked, equipments broken. Some girls still managed to pull a few lathis and gave it back to the men. I don’t know what happened to the children in the group and how the aunties in saris managed to run. I just hope they are all well.

There was not a single ambulance in sight; the entire C- Hexagon of India Gate was empty, barring the police. We walked for almost 45 min, as there was no way out from the outer circle. Finally we managed to duck behind press vans and escaped via Shahjahan Road.

Do I look like a hooligan? Was I armed? Was I provoking the police or creating a nuisance? Was I resorting to violence, by sitting there and listening to, or sharing our personal grievances of Sexual harassment and assault? You judge for yourself.

Agreed, that in such gatherings, some nasty elements do infiltrate and create a raucous, but the police didn’t seem to have the basic sensibility to differentiate between hooligans and some young girls, children, and elderly people.

If the Delhi Police and RAF lack the basic cognizance to recognize the good from bad, what protection can we expect from them? Instead I thank the men of Delhi, the boys of Delhi, who helped all the girls to escape from the wrath of THE POLICE. 

I request the people who were present there, to paint the correct picture, so that Mr.Manmohan Singh, Mr.Shinde and others would get the correct picture of what happened on the ground.

I request the PM and the Home Minister to believe that “I, the woman of India,” am not violent or the ‘Shame of the nation’… that we have to be ashamed that the world is watching. I was not offensive. But I will definitely stand up again to defend myself, my mother, my daughter and my kind. Let the world watch.

*

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2012 1:54 PM

    What else can one expect from the nation and its crippled PM!!!

    • punam permalink
      December 26, 2012 4:24 PM

      Experienced something similar this Sunday. How to trust Police with our safety!!!!

  2. Dinesh Sinha permalink
    December 26, 2012 2:09 PM

    Your account is an eye-opener for all of us. Please do not appeal to politicians. They are tone deaf. They too have lost the sense of discrimination, otherwise they would have responded long ago.

  3. SadMan29 permalink
    December 26, 2012 3:40 PM

    These days Police has become the licenced hooligan of the Government. Shame on them.

  4. December 26, 2012 3:42 PM

    I was under the impression that Delhi Police is getting better but the last three days have washed away all the misunderstandings. They are still a bunch of untamed animals intoxicated by their own power.

  5. December 26, 2012 3:56 PM

    WE are definitely not randis and haraamzaadis; and for all the people who still think that the police or the government will protect them if something unfortunate happens, then people please wake up!!!! You can still trust your male friends or even aquintances; but trusting the police will be a wrong wrong thing!! THEY HAVE ALL BEEN SOLD OUT TO THE GOVERNMENT and my heart pains to say that i am an INDIAN CITIZEN!!!!

    WE ARE NOT BLOODY A SHAME!!!! Seriously!! When they were beating up innocent women and peacefully protesting men and women with lathis, then where were the human rights commission people??

    I am so disheartened by the plight of Delhi at the moment!! “our” police has to start being sensible and sensitive to women; they need to be gender sensitized and rthemselves stop raping women first. In a investigation by Tehelka in which they asked many police inspectors on what they think why rapes happen it was brought forth that they blamed women for whatever happens to them….”women attract men by the kind of clothes they wear and its more of a business for women”…”If a woman is drunk and is with two friends and is getting cozy with one, then the other one WILL get jealous and might rape her later”. These kinds of explanations were given by them!!!!

    Lets change how we think and how our beliefs motivate us to act! Protesting alone will not help, we as a culture need to change!! Our values “dhakiyanusi soch” has to change!! It is actually “each one for themselves” as of now and we need to change this mindset!!

    Hazaar police officials badh jaayega and saari 300 high court vaccancies bhar jaayegi but if each one of them still thinks the same then just imagine the plight of the country and its women and men!!! WHO DO I TRUST IS MY QUESTION!!!!! HOW DO I CHANGE THINGS AND PEOPLE!!!!!

  6. December 26, 2012 5:01 PM

    The language and the force used by the cops tells us what kind of police force we have and what training has been provided to them. I wonder if this government knows that world has not ended in 2012 and 2013 in Delhi and 2014 in Country will come.

  7. VibMad permalink
    December 26, 2012 5:39 PM

    Should have taken a video..

  8. myway permalink
    December 26, 2012 5:55 PM

    becoz for few ppl democracy is all about elections n parliament… they will come at ur door step for vote … but when u share ur pain they will send the police with lathi. we have yet to attain democrary where atleast comon man can voiced.

  9. December 26, 2012 5:55 PM

    Why Delhi Police.. the Police all over the country is getting dumber by the day. They have sold themselves out completely and the way they are being moulded is a huge worry for the future.

  10. amit paharpuri permalink
    December 26, 2012 6:43 PM

    I completely lost my faith in INDIAN DEMOCRACY` . it has become a mimicry. FIrstly implementation of article 144 to restore order was an act of complete shame on on part of Government. it shows the inability of the Government to show some empathy towards its citizen.”’ RAKSHAK HI BHAKSHAK BAN GAYE THE”’. DELHI POLICE, RAPID ACTION FORCE, CISF chaps displayed complete HOOLIGANISM against protesters at INDIA GATE.Cops were brutal,inhumane, draconic against protesters.they just not brutally lathicharged youth but even to the extent of female and old citizens.were not spared. females were abused, questions were raised about their character by these cops. they were even threatened to put them in jail.the ironic act of system just did not stop there but crowd were tortured with TEAR GAS & WATER CANONS IN late evening.police chased , caught , dragged, lathicharged protesters not just in and around INDIA GATE but upto 2-3 km beyond the area. FORCES not even spared ladies carrying their kids along.
    Myself while trying to shield a lady and a girl was badly canned up. i was even threatened to get arrested but was rescued after intervention of group of girls.Police forces were were so irresponsible and insensitive that they spared no means to torture protestants not just PHYSICALLY but PSHYCHOLOGICALLY`.

  11. December 26, 2012 9:00 PM

    Sorry it was Janpath and not RP Road

  12. Ramesh Narendrarai Desai permalink
    December 26, 2012 9:20 PM

    What is new ? This has been happening since the time the British were our rulers. Nothing has changed.

  13. December 26, 2012 10:32 PM

    Mrs Dixit and Congress must be either suicidal, or place too much in Satchi et al. You know what to do to be able to wave a foot in in the attackers’ face/s

  14. December 26, 2012 11:06 PM

    Zee Tv boss is in trouble. Even if we give him the benefit of doubt, because he tangled with someone with power, other media wolves will be directly controlled. Media ownership should show the controlling interest or who the channel or newspaper belongs to. Almost all belong to the politicians.

  15. December 26, 2012 11:15 PM

    Ms Sangeeta Das I sympathize with you but you were an eye-witness of only the peaceful protestors of which you were part. The violence – the stone pelting etc was happening much ahead on Rajpath where I along with the other cops and journalists were dodging the stones. You yourself say you were sitting with Kejriwal, Arvind Gaur etc. They all were sitting peacefully near the india gate area when the police beat them up mercilessly. The stone-pelters obviously were never caught. Only peaceful protestors like you got batten. You guys were almost a mile away from the barricades where the main action was so you obviously had no clue what was happening much ahead and therefore you were no eye-witness of what provoked the lathi-charge.
    The police have of course used propaganda to justify their lathi-charge but by countering it with your own propaganda serves only to further your agenda whatever it may be.

  16. December 26, 2012 11:21 PM

    The complete accurate version is as follows:
    There is absolutely no justification for police beating up unarmed protestors. But we need to understand the circumstances that led to the police action.

    I was at the Mansingh Road barricade for about 2 hours. I left few minutes before 530, before the final lathi charge. There were youth at the barricade who repeatedly attempted to pull the helmets off Delhi Police and CRPF personnel, including women personnel. Even amongst them there was a girl who repeatedly appealed to the protestors to remain non violent. At around 430, some youth were able to topple a barricade. The water cannon was directed towards them. This was met by a barrage of stones from youth on the South side and the stream facing Hyderabad House. A few of those on the South side held banners of the ABVP and the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena. Some cops, including officers were hit directly on the face and neck, forcing them to retreat.

    At this stage 4 to 5 tear gas shells were fired. One fell near me. I was about 10 feet from the barricade. After losing visibility, I staggered towards the barricade and was pulled to safety by some CRPF women constables. I recognised them as CRPF, when my vision was restored in a few seconds, seeing the two-flag crest on their navy blue berets. Yes, many personnel weren’t wearing helmets.

    Even as this went on, youth from the flanks (beside IGNCA) began throwing large stones. Initially the stones were few, roughly 10-15 per minute. Later it grew intense. I saw many police personnel get hit. Their commanders- head constables, sub inspectors and inspectors- continuously ordered them to maintain the file and not chase the youth from the flanks.

    At this stage there were two files on women constables- Delhi Police on the South side and CRPF on the North- of Rajpath. Earlier I had seen some of them roughed up, their flak jackets pulled at by protestors at the barricade. I looked up to see a volley of stones. Many women cops received mild injuries. The stones missed me, but a tear gas canister hurled back at the barricade, hit me. The women police began to retreat. Their officers began yelling at them. “Aapke pass, lathi hai, jacket hai, shield hai. Samne jao aur barricade khada karo. Koi nahi bhagega,” a lady sub inspector of the CRPF shouted at them. A Delhi police officer (I think he was an Addl DCP) shouted, “Madam aage aaiye, Kahaan bhaagke jayenge. Koi peeche nahi hatega.” The same officer shouted at a male constable who picked up a stone to hurl back at the protestors.

    Then another Delhi Police officer said to the senior officer loudly: “Sir log keejiye, heavy stone pelting.” This was logged on the wireless. By then I was back at the barricade with some press photographers including my colleague Sushil Verma of The Hindu. Many constables asked me to leave, saying, “Charge hone wala hai, door jaaiye (pointing towards Hyderabad House). A Delhi Police officer was repeatedly announcing on a mic: “Aapse vinti hai kripya peeche jaayein. Peeche hatiye. Hinsa ho raha hai. India Gate khali keejiye.” A protestor tried to snatch his microphone, but this was snatched back from him. Then the head constables began saying, “Charge ke liye tayyar. Sabko peeche hatao.” One of them pushed me out of the barricade. There was a mild lathi charge soon after and the barricade was brought forward. Multiple rounds of tear gas were fired. I left towards Andhra Bhawan, as I was dizzy after the second tear gas shell hit me.

    On the way towards Le Meridien there were many policemen with wireless sets. Two of them told me, “Maar peet start ho gaya hai. Ghar jaiye.” At Le Meridien a crowd had gathered after a Delhi police woman constable hit a woman protestor on her shin with a lathi, when the latter tried to force herself across a barricade. The people and the girl were yelling at the police. Some of them used cuss words like saale, bhadwe etc. A head constable kept trying to assure them, that the injury was minor and the constable didn’t intend to hurt her. Just then around 15 constables came rushing from the BSNL building end. They were aggressive and were shouting, “Maaro saalon ko. Bhagao sabko.”

    No one was hit at that barricade, but it was clear by then that the police were going to hit back. They did soon enough.
    During the afternoon at almost every picket, I saw police being abused, their lathis were snatched. They weren’t used to being disrespected. An ACP even requested me to talk to the protestors to explain that they were under orders to protect Rashtrapati Bhawan, North Block, South Block and Parliament, and there was no point fighting. Towards the end I saw officers repeatedly asking junior personnel, not to break ranks, asking male personnel to call female personnel to deal with female protestors. But many of the junior personnel who were being hit were furious. Their irrational response was expected.

  17. Vive permalink
    December 29, 2012 12:32 AM

    All the time when I was reading, I had these pictures of freedom fighters being beaten up during British Raj. After finishing, I was asking myself… Have the guys who claim to be gandhian turned into the demons from the British Raj. Have we really progressed in any sense!
    DejaVu!

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