Teachers and students from Jamia Millia Islamia were joined by civil rights activists and colleagues from other universities in a demonstration at the Police Headquarters at ITO today in Delhi on Sunday. They were protesting the Delhi Police’s persistent stonewalling of any enquiry into the Batla House ‘encounter’, widely perceived to be fake. The protestors expressed their outrage at the affidavit filed by the Delhi Police before the Delhi High Court last week. The protestors charged that the affidavit is virtually a charter for a license to kill for the police, which mocks at the very idea that the security agencies should operate within the ambit of law and be sensitive to human rights concerns.
The police were taken by surprise when the protestors gathered at the gate shouting slogans and arguing vociferously even while the police had erected barricades much ahead on the pavement. There was literally a scuffle as the students and teachers, albeit peaceful, were pushed by the strong police force towards the barricade. “This is how they treat people who are asking peacefully for a judicial enquiry,” said a student. “We are not asking for an impossible demand. Why is the police afraid if it is clean on its conduct and if it is not a fake encounter.”
The Delhi Police, in order to evade probe, is making grossly malicious comparisons between the Batla House ‘encounter’ and the tragic violence in Bombay in November, complained the teachers and students. The events of September 19 in Batla House, and the police claims, are mired in suspicion and inconsistencies, they said. Moreover, the Delhi Police’s “pathological aversion to any independent scrutiny of its actions points the needle of suspicion even more strongly towards it. In its attempt to subvert any enquiry into the incident, the Delhi Police has sought to undermine and contravene all institutions of democracy,” the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Group told Hardnews.
The group contends that in its affidavit, the Delhi Police has made utterly demeaning references to the guidelines laid down by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which require that a magisterial enquiry be invariably held in all cases of death that occur in the course of police action. By pleading that fear of enquiries will impede in the execution of police duties, the Delhi Police is only arguing that it be rendered above all law and accountability. The demonstrators also took issue with the Delhi Police’s claim that an enquiry into the Batla House ‘encounter’ would demoralise the police force and prevent it from taking “quick action against a terrorist or a hardcore criminal”. “It is precisely against such summary execution and dispensation of ‘justice’-euphemistically referred to as encounters-that NHRC guidelines have been evolved, said the teachers in a statement endorsed by Adeel Mehdi.
The Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Group has condemned the Delhi Police’s affidavit in no uncertain terms and reiterates its demand for a judicial probe into the Batla House ‘encounter’. The protesters also burnt an effigy of the Delhi Police.