Monday, February 20, 2017
NEW DELHI: On December 27, students were beaten and jailed in the district of Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh, The Law students in Shivpuri were protesting to ensure a dust free environment, and to build proper roads.
They were also demanding for the creation of a playground in the area. In an age where public voices are being shut down by government officials, and where protests are seen as immoral, this incident in Shivpuri did nothing to qualm these fears.
The incident came in the backdrop of the Sewer Project implemented by the Madhya Pradesh Government, which caused a lot of problems for the people of the small district.
“The citizens of Shivpuri have long been suffering because of the shabby implementation of the Sewer Project which involved continuous digging of roads and not filling them up properly. As a result, pits were created all over the roads, leading to numerous accidents, and further problems in commutation. Furthermore, all the digging and re-digging of roads has polluted the entire city with dust creating respiratory problems for people”, said Abhay Jain, a fifth year law student at National Law University Odisha, who was a part of the peaceful protest.
On 27 December, a group of law students studying in various universities across India came to meet the Collector voicing their demands. It was a Tuesday which was supposed to be the day of 'Jan Sunwaai' wherein the Officials were required to address the grievances of the masses. The students were asked to leave by the Deputy Collector saying that the Collector was not in town.
The next day, the students gathered again in the morning, around the time when the program was about to start near the office of the Collectorate. The students gathered at the gate of the Collectorate but the Collector didn’t come. Instead he went directly for an event while the students were kept waiting.
After waiting for two hours, the group of students went to Polo Ground, where the collector was attending the event. They surrounded the vehicle of the Collector in protest. In addition to the Collector, the event was also attended by Raghvendra Sharma, the Chairperson of the Madhya Pradesh Commission for Protection of Child Rights(MPCPCR), the Jila Panchayat President, the SP and many other authorities.
After getting the information regarding the protest by the students, the Collector and the SP, Sunil Pande, ordered the arrest of the students.
The students claimed they were abused by the S.D.O(Sub divisional officer) and were taken to the District Jail, where they were repeatedly threatened that their careers would be destroyed. Out of 50 students only fourteen were above 18 years of age and the rest were minors. Girls were also taken in the same police van without any woman constable attending them.
The students were detained in premises for three hours without any kind of safe drinking water, and were devoid of basic facilities, “said Aditya Shrivastava, a student of ICFAI, Dehradun, who was also part of the protest.
The students were later released after given due warning.
Later, Raghvendra Sharma denied having knowledge about any such incident. “Mr Sharma did not even visit the jail facility. He merely said he would look into it”, added Aditya.
"This is gross violation of child rights, Juvenile Justice Act, fundamental rights and human rights. They cannot arrest minors.At least 35 of the protesting students were minors," said Abhay Jain, who has been campaigning on civic issues.
When asked about the specifics of the incident, O.P Shrivastava, the Collector said that he was pained by the problems faced by the masses, and that the roads would soon be constructed.
The students are still carrying on the protest. However, the effect of the protests on the MP Government, and the collector in particular, remains to be seen.