LAWYERS DECLARE WAR ON THE RULE OF LAW, CHALLENGE SUPREME COURT
NEW DELHI: Law became the big casualty as those licensed to protect it ran amok at the Patiala courts. Fears expressed after similar violence on Monday that JNU Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar could be ‘lynched’ by the slogan-shouting mob of lawyers, were validated on Wednesday when he was assaulted when he was brought to the Patiala courts for his bail hearing.
This was after the mob of lawyers, taking law into their own hands, had beaten up journalists and students yet again outside and within the court premises. #LawyersOrGoons was finally flashed by a television channel that had spent the last several days in baying against the students and JNU as being ‘jihadi’, with this being the second day of unabated violence while the Delhi police looked on.
It was not immediately known whether Kanhaiya was injured, but he was hit when he was sitting in the room next to the courtroom, waiting to go in for his bail hearing. The
Again the Delhi police stood by and watched, with the attack being filmed by the TV crews present, as the lawyers waved the national tricolour, shouted slogans, and beat up who they saw as ‘enemies of the state.’ This attack came a day after 800 odd journalists marched on the streets of Delhi to protest the violence on Monday, the entire political spectrum met Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to restore order and release the innocent student, and within an hour or less of a Cabinet meeting called by the PM on the situation. Interestingly this was after Police Commissioner B.S.Bassi had been to the Prime Minister’s Office and came out to say that the case against the student will be pursued.
A bunch of lawyers had been identified and named by the media on Monday for beating up reporters. No case was booked, and no action taken against them by the cops. The same 40-50 lawyers, according to reporters at the Patiala courts were present today raising slogans and beating up reporters for talking on their mobile phones, for taking photographs, or for just coming in their way. Students who had come from Sonepat to express solidarity with their JNU colleague were also beaten. The police, again when approached by the scribes for help, looked the other way and asked them to leave instead.
The police was clearly following orders from the top, according to several Opposition leaders including former Congress Minister Manish Tiwari. And given the sensitivity of the issue, the Police Chief too was either following direct orders from his political bosses, or had the clearance required to take action as and when he so decided.
The Supreme Court has taken serious note of this hooliganism and rushed five Commissioners who are senior advocates of the Court, under security to the Patiala courts, to report and assess the situation. The bail hearing has been cancelled. The apex court will make its observations and take further action after hearing from the Commissioners.
As Tiwari said, a claim echoed by most Opposition leaders spoken to, the “intention” is to polarise and divide the country into what the BJP terms are the nationalists versus the rest.
The story is in the slogans raised by the lawyers, by BJP MLA who beat up a CPI activist in full view, the inaction of the police that has been described by several senior political leaders including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as working closely with the BJP, and the continued attack despite the Supreme Court call for restraint. And in the reaction from the top echelons of government that have not called for restraint despite the PM’s meeting with the entire Opposition on Tuesday. In fact BJPs ally, the Akali Dal was very critical of the attack on the students and warned of consequences that would impact on the political prospects of the alliance in Punjab during the state elections.
The narrative emerging from the positions taken by the police, the BJP leaders and the supporting lawyers is:
1.JNU is a hotbed of anti-national students and faculty. In fact a BJP ideologue and an editor has written saying that the University should be closed down;
2. Anti-India slogans are raised within;
3. The Students Union is run by anti-nationals;
4. Left is anti-national, pro-Pakistan, pro-terrorist;
5. Most of them are indulging in seditious activity and need to be locked up and tried.
This is further sought to be endorsed by the slogans raised by the lawyers, who on both days of the violence, insist that they were reacting to pro-Pakistan slogans that no one heard except them. The BJP legislator who openly rushed after, and beat up a young man in full view of the cameras, insisted that he was doing this because he could not tolerate slogans against his motherland. A charge that the CPI activist strongly refuted.
The real reason, however arises from the facts that:
1. JNU is a University that thrives on debate and dissent;
2. It has managed to establish a convention whereby all views are voiced within the campus, positions taken, and dissent tolerated and encouraged;
3. It has a strong Left presence, with the students Left groups incidentally often at loggerheads in the tradition of campus politics. And it takes positions on larger political issues, such as the #UGCOccupy protest, as well as the right of students in campuses such as FTII and HCU to debate and dissent.
The Opposition leaders all pointed out that there were “clear directions” to the Delhi police not to take a stand and stop the lawyers despite the apex court orders earlier in the day. There has been widespread condemnation of the violence, with the lawyers and the police completely flouting the law, attacking all those seen to be on the side of the law, and yet the police till the evening had not moved to arrest those who have been holding the law and the court to ransom.