MUMBAI: Police caned students outside the governor’s bungalow at Walkeshwar where they had assembled on Saturday to protest against an increase in reservation quotas in private and public educational institutions for those belonging to the other backward classes.
The students were also protesting against the violent police action on protesting students from Delhi medical colleges on Friday.
Some injured students ware taken to KEM Hospital. Twenty students suffered fractures and two were seriously injured. Yoganand Patil, spokesperson, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors, said,
“The police lathi-charged students as they staged a protest on reservations outside the governor’s bungalow. But this will not deter us. We will continue to protest by wearing black armbands. As of now, we are yet to take a decision on whether to go on hunger strike.”
More than 100 students were arrested and taken to police stations in Gamdevi, Walkeshwar, and Malabar Hill. The 300 students who joined the protest were in the 17-25 year age-group.
Police failed to file an FIR in the case though the students were detained for more than five hours. Joint Commissioner of Police Arup Patnaik visited the spot after three hours of commotion.
Taking strong exception to the police action, Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil ordered an inquiry, directing Police Commissioner AN Roy to submit a report within seven days.
Students alleged that they were manhandled and lathi-charged without warning. Female interns were arrested by male constables and there were no women constables present at the spot.
Reema Pathak, an intern from KEM Hospital, said, “One of the students who was arrested called us from inside the Malabar Hill police station saying alcohol was splashed on their faces by police personnel. There was no warning before the lathi-charge. We had gathered outside Raj Bhavan at 4:45pm and were lathi-charged at 5pm.”
Pathak said that in the melee, a handicapped student was beaten up. “Students suffered jaw fractures and knee-joint injuries. Our protest is completely apolitical and non-violent. We are just a bunch of doctors and students,” she said.
Mansi Deolkar, an intern at the MGM Medical College, was detained at Malabar Hill police station and released around 9pm. She said, “Girls were slapped by policemen and some of them suffered injuries on their faces. We were made to sit in the police station without medical care for hours.”
Sandeep Morkhandikar a 22-year-old intern at JJ Hospital, said, “I was hit twice by lathis. We received no warning before the police lathi-charged us.” The Malabar Hill police did not allow media personnel to enter the police station where students were being released in small batches.
The students have planned more protests and have resolved to demand that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meet them. Dr Lal Ramani, spokesman of the Indian Medical Association’s Mumbai chapter, said,
“Although Home Minister RR Patil has ordered an inquiry, we are not satisfied. We want action against the erring cops.” He also warned, “From tomorrow if any policeman approaches any hospital in Mumbai, he will not be treated.”
The students had been interacting with one another over the past week on an online forum called Youth for Equality on which students from city colleges discussed ideas with students from Delhi on staging effective protests.