Don't treat students like hardened criminals
The Delhi police have claimed some protesters threw stones at them. The students deny this, saying the police were bent on unleashing terror against peaceful protesters.
Sunday's assault by Delhi Police on students protesting against the amended Citizenship Act is the latest episode in a series of incidents across the country, following unrest in Assam, Tripura, and West Bengal.
The Delhi police have claimed some protesters threw stones at them. The students deny this, saying the police were bent on unleashing terror against peaceful protesters. More than 100 students had to be hospitalised following tear-gas shelling.
Two things are clear here: One, the police were ill-prepared to maintain law and order, and two, nothing justifies the violence used against protesting students; at the least, the police had no business entering the Jamia Milia campus and terrorising students. Delhi Police fall under the Union home ministry, and Home Minister Amit Shah needs to step in and rein them in.
On the same day, what didn't go unnoticed amid the Delhi protests were the comments of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who on the campaign trail in Jharkhand sought to give a communal colour to the dissent.
Defending the amendments to the Citizenship Act and the manner in which it was driven through the two Houses of Parliament, Modi accused the Congress and its allies of fuelling the unrest across the country. Had he stopped there, it could have been justified as a political comment made in the cauldron of campaigning. But Modi went on to add that those spreading the unrest could be identified by their clothes. It was no secret what he was hinting at.
While those in the highest elected offices definitely need to temper their rhetoric, the need of the hour is for the police to handle civil protests and dissent in an even-handed manner.
These are students, often touted as the 'future of India', and not some hardened criminals, who the police are used to riding roughshod over. If the police do not mend their ways quickly, what started in Delhi could soon spread across the country, and the ruling dispensation will have a tough time bringing things under control again.
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