A huge protest march by students of Jawaharlal Nehru University -- bound for Rashtrapati Bhavan --- ended in lathicharge and largescale detentions by the Delhi Police this evening. Frantic footage from the spot showed slogan-shouting students being dragged away and packed into buses by the police. Several students were injured and three busloads of protesters were detained by the police.
Students, teachers and civil society groups -- including senior political leaders Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat and Sharad Yadav -- had started the march this afternoon from Mandi House. The plan was to go to the offices of the HRD ministry and submit a memorandum regarding Sunday's mob attack at the university campus and their demand for the resignation of the university's vice-chancellor.
But after the meeting with the HRD officials, the students, led by JNU students' union leader Aishe Ghosh, decided to move towards the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Sources told NDTV that the students decided to meet President Ram Nath Kovind after the HRD Secretary suggested that he would speak to Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar.
Amit Khare, the secretary of Higher Education, told NDTV: "During our long discussion, I told them that in any campus, there can be difference of opinion and it can be discussed. But when violence takes place over it, it becomes a matter of great concern. Whatever communication gaps are there, whatever grievances are there -- of the students and teachers -- I said tomorrow I would meet the Vice Chancellor. I told the students that their delegation can meet him at 3 tomorrow."
The students wantd the vice chancellor removed and after the meeting, decided to march to the Rashrapati Bhavan.
As the police refused to allow that, the slogan shouting started. Amid screams of "Delhi Police murdabad (down with Delhi Police)," the detentions began. The students have been taken to the police station at the Connaught Place, the heart of the city.
The students' demand for the Vice-Chancellor's removal has been seconded by BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi, who was the minister for Human Resources Development in the government by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
In a tweet today, Mr Joshi said:
Today's face-off comes amid deep distrust of the police by the students.
Those present at the premier university during Sunday's attack, alleged that the police remained mute bystanders as masked goons, armed with sticks and iron bars, had beaten up students and teachers. At least 19 students and five faculty members were injured and needed medical treatment.
An inquiry is being held into the matter an the report will be shared with the home ministry.
The attack has triggered nationwide protests, in which not just the student committee, but the civil society, Bollywood and political leaders have joined in.
The student protests have been continuing from Sunday, in which students from premier institutes like IITs, IIMs and apolitical institutions like Kolkata's St Xavier's College and Delhi's St Stephen's have raised voices.