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Vicious assault on Kanhaiya

Kanhaiya Kumar was kicked and punched so viciously inside a court complex today afternoon that what appeared to be urine stained the young man's trousers.

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui
  • Published 18.02.16
Kanhaiya Kumar in the Patiala House Courts complex on Wednesday. (AFP)

New Delhi, Feb. 17: Kanhaiya Kumar was kicked and punched so viciously inside a court complex today afternoon that what appeared to be urine stained the young man's trousers.

Half an hour later, the JNU students' union president, arrested on a sedition charge, was beaten up again - this time in a room near the courtroom earmarked for his bail hearing, according to lawyers.

Hundreds of policemen, who should have thrown a protective ring around the JNU students' union president as soon as he was brought into the Patiala House Courts complex, did so only after the first round of assault had run its course.

The back-to-back attacks took place in spite of a directive by the Supreme Court to ensure full security and less than 48 hours after the very same assailants had pounced on teachers, students and journalists in the same court complex.

Around 10 lawyers pounced on Kanhaiya on the court premises while he was being led to the courtroom. The attackers had a free run for several minutes before a few policemen tried to shield him with their riot gear.

The police had ample warning in advance. As soon as 10 policemen escorted Kanhaiya from the gate to the court complex, a group of lawyers started shouting " Desh ke gaddaron ko/Goli maro saalon ko (Shoot the traitors)".

The police did nothing. The lawyers went berserk.

They punched and kicked Kanhaiya all over his body. A large crowd of lawyers egged them on, mouthing expletive after expletive.

Kanhaiya tried to shield himself from the blows, sitting on the ground and repeatedly saying: " Main deshdrohi nahin hoon (I am not anti-national)."

But there was no let-up and soon the stain appeared on his trousers. It was then that the policemen threw a security ring around him.

The policemen whisked him inside the court building and bolted the door. But the lawyers continued to abuse him, threatening to kill him on the premises for allegedly shouting anti-national slogans during a march on the JNU campus on February 9.

One group was waving the Tricolour, chanting in unison " Bharat Mata ki jai" and " Vande Mataram".

Around 30 minutes later, while Kanhaiya was seated in a room opposite the court of metropolitan magistrate Lovleen where he was to be produced, a lawyer identified as Surendra Tyagi reportedly barged into the room and punched and kicked him in his abdomen and pulled his hair in the presence of policemen. The lawyer and others bragged about this outside. The account was corroborated by a lawyer for Kanhaiya.

Several lawyers were seen congratulating each other for teaching Kanhaiya "a lesson he will not forget in this life".

"We are so proud of you. This calls for celebration," Tyagi shouted to his colleagues. Others clapped and embraced one another.

"People are calling us goondas while the anti-nationals are being hailed as heroes. We will continue to fight for our motherland. If anyone casts aspersions on our Mother India, we will gouge their eyes out," said Vikram Chauhan, a lawyer who had led the attacks on Monday as well as today. Chauhan describes himself as a BJP sympathiser. (Picture on Page 4)

The celebration and slogan-shouting continued but the police did not intervene. Officers, led by deputy commissioner Jatin Narwal, stood poker-faced.

Kanhaiya broke down before the magistrate Lovleen while narrating his ordeal inside the court complex. He added that he was innocent and was being framed.

"I am an Indian and I have full faith in the Constitution as well as the judiciary of the country. I have said this earlier too," Kanhaiya told the magistrate. "The media trial against me is painful. If there is any evidence against me that I am a traitor, you please send me to jail."

The magistrate asked the police to call doctors. Two doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital examined Kanhaiya inside the room opposite Lovleen's court.

"There were minor injuries, only minor abrasions on his face, nose and both the legs," a doctor told reporters.

During the court proceedings, the police told the magistrate that they did not require Kanhaiya's custody and he may be sent to judicial custody.

Siddhartha, one of the counsel for the student leader, alleged that the police connived with the group of lawyers who attacked his client.

"The police were mute spectators when my client was being assaulted. It was in clear defiance of the apex court order. The cops connived with the lawyers," he said.

Kanhaiya was sent to judicial custody for 14 days. "We did not file a bail petition today as we think he is safer in jail than in police custody," the counsel said.

The group of lawyers continued to protest and stood outside the courtroom gate. "We have so many of our notorious clients in Tihar. We will ask them to look after him well," Tyagi said, drawing applause from other lawyers.

Acting on information about the violence, the Supreme Court had rushed six senior lawyers led by Kapil Sibal. The lawyers in the Patiala House complex did not spare the delegation either.

The lawyers showered the visitors from the Supreme Court, a little over a kilometre away, with expletives, particularly targeting Sibal. While the team was on its way back, a shoe was hurled at the former Union minister. It missed him.

Earlier in the day, the same group of lawyers had attacked a journalist belonging to FirstPost, a news portal, and thrown stones at journalists who were standing outside the court premises.

But Delhi police commissioner B.S. Bassi said he did not "think" Kanhaiya was beaten up. "I do not think he was beaten up. There was only jostling and our men managed to take him to the courtroom safely. We expected jostling and considering that, he was escorted by police officers, including two ACP-rank officers and two inspectors, who managed to take him to the courtroom safely," he said.

Defending the police response, Bassi added: "Any use of heavy force against lawyers would have led to collateral damage."

He said the officers shielded Kanhaiya physically. "We managed the situation and there was no breach of peace. We have followed norms of prudent policing," Bassi said.

The police chief said three lawyers, including Chauhan, and BJP legislator O.P. Sharma had been summoned for questioning in connection with Monday's incidents.