Politics

This is the Home Minister’s Idea of Punishment for the Patiala House Thugs

Two days after the attack, nobody has been held responsible in spite of ample photographic and video evidence

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In this undated photograph, Rajnath Singh twists the ear of Vikram Singh Chauhan, the lawyer who took the lead in attacking JNU students outside the Patiala House court on Monday. Credit: Vikram Singh Chauhan/Facebook

 New Delhi: While media houses have clearly identified some of the people responsible for the attack on teachers, students and journalists at Patiala House Court on February 15, the police officially is still only “trying to identify some of the men involved”. Given that there are clear photographs and videos of some of the attackers, including BJP MLA OP Sharma and lawyer Vikram Singh Chauhan, and that there was extremely high police presence at the site of the attack, critics say this is proof that law enforcement in the capital is being driven by political bias.

While two cases have been registered, one for the attack on journalists inside the court complex and the other for the violence outside the court, these were done taking suo motu cognisance and not based on the actual complaints of the victims. That is why no suspects have been named in the cases. Delhi police commissioner B.S. Bassi has said these cases were filed based on complaints from “both sides”.

Police inaction at the scene has been widely criticised, and a writ petition is being heard in the Supreme Court against the police for not protecting citizens, and seeking remedy for those who were hurt. When questioned on the events and the police’s lack of action, Bassi said what took place outside the court was a “minor scuffle”. Minister of state for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju, also sought to downplay the violence, asking, “Was there a murder?”

On Wednesday afternoon, reports finally came that three lawyers have been summoned for questioning by the police.

Repeat incident?

With JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar due to be  presented in the Patiala House Court again on Wednesday, an even larger group of lawyers gathered at the site. The lawyers are protesting the Supreme Court’s warning at the hearing of the writ petition. Two journalists and several supporters of Kumar at the court have been attacked again, the goons perhaps emboldened by the lack of action against Monday’s perpetrators. The role of the Delhi police has again come under a cloud with the CRPF being deployed to the site.

No police action against BJP MLA Sharma

BJP MLA OP Sharma, who was caught on camera thrashing CPI leader Ameeque Jamai, has not only accepted but even justified his actions. Though calling it “self-defence”, Sharma said in an interview that there was nothing wrong with “beating or even killing” someone who may be pro-Pakistani. Despite this, no police action has been registered against Sharma. BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi has also said he agrees with Sharma’s views on the matter.

Echoing Sharma’s claim, made later, that he was attacked first, Sharma  told reporters that the BJP MLA had also been injured.

Identifying the accused

Lawyer Vikram Singh Chauhan has also been identified assaulting people in photographs, and has admitted to organising the protest against “anti-nationals”. Though he claims not to belong to any political party, Chauhan has been photographed with several BJP leaders in the past, including union home minister Rajnath Singh. Chauhan is leading the protest at Patiala House Court again on Wednesday afternoon.

Vikram Singh Chauhan with senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya. Credit: Vikram Singh Chauhan/Facebook

Vikram Singh Chauhan with senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya. Credit: Vikram Singh Chauhan/Facebook

Without the use of police resources and personnel, media houses have easily been able to identify some of the lawyers responsible for the attack, including Yashpal Singh and Om Sharma. Yet, the police somehow remain stuck in the process.

Speaking to The Wire, retired IPS officer and former Uttar Pradesh DGP Vikram Singh made it very clear that he thought it was not inefficiency but the lack of effort from the police that had resulted in the perpetrators not being identified. “This is completely unbelievable. Despite the clear videos, how can the police not identify anyone? These are not professional terrorists, they are members of the general public – finding out who they are is extremely easy. If they aren’t able to find these people it is because of the lack of will”.