Monday, 30th October 2017

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'They punched and kicked... and I fell'

Ameeque Jamei, the Delhi general secretary of the All India Tanzeem-e-Insaf, a CPI-backed rights organisation, recounts the attack on him in the Patiala House Courts complex on Monday:

By Pheroze L. Vincent
  • Published 16.02.16
BJP legislator OP Sharma (left) and his supporters thrash CPI leader Ameeque Jamei outside the Patiala House Courts in New Delhi on Monday; Ameeque, who was among a group of students expressing solidarity with Kanhaiya Kumar, thrown to the ground during the assault. Pictures by Yasir Iqbal and PTI

New Delhi, Feb. 15: Ameeque Jamei, the Delhi general secretary of the All India Tanzeem-e-Insaf, a CPI-backed rights organisation, recounts the attack on him in the Patiala House Courts complex on Monday:

"I reached the court with three (CPI) comrades after 1.30pm. On arrival, we were heckled by 15-20 men in black coats that lawyers wear. They yelled, ' Saale JNU-waale ( expletive)! Ghusne mat do. Pakistan bhejo. Bharat Mata ki jai! (Don't let these JNU fellows enter. Send them to Pakistan. Hail Mother India!)'.

"Then they cornered a few students standing there and hit them. Outnumbered, we and the students moved towards the gate. The crowd of BJP supporters and lawyers had grown to about 200.

"When we came out, NDTV's Sonal Mehrotra and reporters and video journalists from ABP News (owned by the publishers of The Telegraph) and Zee were there. The lawyers were still heckling us. The reporters told them to leave us and to let the court decide who is guilty. They then pushed the journalists around. We moved away.

"We saw Arun Jaitley arrive in court for a hearing of the defamation case against Kejriwal. The lawyers had gone back inside court.

"We started sloganeering 'Arun Jaitley, jawaab do (give us an answer)!' referring to the DDCA scam. Suddenly, the BJP workers came back, led by BJP MLA O.P. Sharma.

"They chased the four of us.... They pounced on me and began to punch and kick me after I fell on the road. It was a rain of blows, there were many of them. Sharma then said: " Ab dekhte hain kya Vemula karoge tum. Secular gundai ***** (expletive) mein ghusa denge!" (Let's see how you organise Rohith Vemula protests now. We'll shove your secular hooliganism up your *****).'

"They knew who I was. I was in the newspaper photographs when we felled the barricade at Shastri Bhavan, protesting Vemula's death, last month. I also have worked in relief camps after the attacks in Ballabhgarh (in Haryana, on the outskirts of Delhi) last year.

"Around 3.15pm, a policeman came and pulled me out of the huddle of Sharma's men kicking me. There were at least 500 Delhi police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel. They had done nothing when we were chased and hit for over 15 minutes.

"I was taken to Tughlak Road police station (where Mahatma Gandhi's assassination FIR was registered) and kept there until 7pm without first aid. I was bleeding from my head and my whole body is hurting. The police then took me to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital for a medico-legal check-up. I was allowed to leave at 8pm.

"A police officer told me at the hospital: 'None of the culprits could be identified.'

I asked him how he could not identify a sitting MLA. I got no reply."

Sharma, who?

Sharma - "OP" to the BJP -was Arun Jaitley's shadow, his handyman.

Today, Sharma wondered why he was "dragged" into the episode. "I was there with boss (Jaitley)," Sharma said.

The finance minister had to appear in the court for a defamation case he had filed against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

When Jaitley had first appeared in the court for the case - a day after Sonia and Rahul Gandhi showed up at the same court for the National Herald hearing amid a show of strength - Sharma had made it a point to mobilise a big crowd for "boss".

Sharma, 60, said today: "As soon as boss's car left, we were walking towards the car park. It was blocked by protesters. Suddenly, we saw two or three men shouting 'Pakistan zindabad'. I stopped and asked 'what are you saying? This is wrong.' One of them lunged towards me and beat me. I was hurt on the head and was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital."

Until recently, it was impossible to visualise Jaitley without Sharma - that is until Sharma became one of the three BJP candidates to retain his seat in East Delhi in the 2015 Assembly elections against the Aam Aadmi Party wave.

Notwithstanding the BJP's hugely depleted strength in the Delhi Assembly, Sharma, a businessman, went in for the kill from day one, stalling proceedings at every available opportunity.

He was suspended for almost the entire winter session of the Assembly for using derogatory language against an AAP MLA, Alka Lamba. Nagendra Sharma, Kejriwal's media officer, tweeted to say the Assembly's ethics panel had deducted his salary for smashing a mike.

Sharma was Jaitley's contemporary in Delhi University. An ABVP activist, Sharma graduated from Satyawati College.

PTI adds: Told that footage showed him beating up a person, Sharma said: "I do not known which video you are taking about."

He added: "It is not wrong if somebody shouting such slogans is beaten up or even done to death."

Additional reporting by Our Special Correspondent in New Delhi