Fifteen people, including University of Delhi professor Santosh Yadav and JNU researcher Kanchana Yadav, were temporarily detained by police during a meeting at Delhi University’s Faculty of Arts on Monday to mark the 21st anniversary of the death of gangster-turned-parliamentarian Phoolan Devi.
The students said the event, organized by the All India Student Association (AISA) with members of other student groups in attendance, was to be a half-hour meeting near the gate with several speakers present. Video of the incident appears to show several students being detained, while others chant slogans in the background.
Sagar Singh Kalsi, DCP (North), said, “About 20-25 people had gathered and Yadav started giving a talk around 3 p.m. They were asked not to hold a meeting, as a notice was issued under Section 144, and to disperse in five minutes. The DCP added that when they refused to comply, 15 people were arrested and then released around 5 p.m.
AISA condemned the detention in a statement: “Delhi Police have arbitrarily detained the students on the pretext of violating Section 144, which the students were not previously informed of…this represents an open attack on the social justice”.
AISA member Ayush Singh said the police intervened while the meeting was in progress. “The first speaker had not yet finished speaking when the police interrupted us and told us that no meeting was allowed under Article 144. It was a completely peaceful event, but the police detained many of us,” he said.
AISA Delhi secretary Neha said the police action made no sense. “We don’t understand why this had to happen when other events went off without a hitch. Events have also been organized in the past by ABVP without any problems,” she pointed out.
One of the organizers of the meeting, Amarjeet Singh, said: “An FIR under Section 188 (disobeying an official’s order) has been filed against me and speakers Santosh Yadav and Kanchana Yadav. How can article 144 apply to university entrance?