At 3 pm, Professor Gupta, who is visually challenged, was among a group of 100 demonstrators at Delhi's SRCC college holding up placards protesting the arrival of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The professor teaches History at the main campus in Delhi University. "SRCC has in the past stayed away from getting any politicians on campus. When Lalu was Rail Minister, the college didn't invite him though they discussed it. So what has changed now?" he asked.
The protesters, most of them affiliated to Left-wing student parties say the chief minister, who has not accepted responsibility or apologized for the Gujarat riots of 2002, should not have been invited to campus. They were gathered at Gate No. 3 where Mr ModI's entourage was expected. Many of them were dressed in black and were wearing masks. Their placards urged, 'Go back, Modi' and 'Justice for victims of 2002.'
Till close to 3.30 pm, the protests were peaceful. But then the police put up a banner that said large groups could not gather. 'Please be warned, section 144 is in place beyond this point. And action will be taken against those who violate it. By the order of the DCP, North Zone'.
That provoked the demonstrators and they aggressively pushed against the police barricades. Within minutes, they were sprayed with water cannons.
In the chaos that followed, few noticed Mr Modi's convoy pulling up to the auditorium.
"I don't agree with his definition of development. By calling him as the chief guest, the college has virtually endorsed his brand of politics. That's unacceptable to me," said a young student from SRCC.
But soon a small group of Modi supporters arrived, carrying signs that said, 'Modi lao, desh bachao' (Modi will save the nation).
"He is the only political alternative in our country today. Look at what he's done in Gujarat. It is today one of the most developed states across the country," said a Modi supporter.
The demonstrators remained outside during Mr Modi's one-hour speech. They dispersed after his car left.
Story first published:
February 06, 2013 21:57 IST