CJP Secretary Teesta Setalvad and social activist Muniza Khan met Police Commissioner of Varanasi on Wednesday and submitted a letter expressing outrage at the physically intimidating conduct of male police officers unlawfully restraining their entry into the Kashi Vidyapeeth on Tuesday. The meeting took place with prior appointment at the Kacheri office of the Commissioner.
On Tuesday, February 27, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) threatened, surrounded and prevented CJP secretary Teesta Setalvad from conducting a workshop at Varanasi’s Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. Local police present on the spot did not stop the ABVP goons, instead they roughed up university students who wanted to attend the workshop and even pushed Setalvad and her team around.
The letter says, “We were shocked to find an entire posse of police, including the PAC, barricading the gates of the Vidyapeeth. When we reached, efforts were made to restrain us, though we were there for a legitimate programme officially sanctioned by the University…” The letter goes on to point out the absence of female police officers at the spot and how male officers pushed Setalvad, an act that amounts to illegal use of force without any authority. The letter further says, “Physical handling and restraint of law abiding citizens going into the Kashi Vidyapeeth for an official programme is not part of any duty of the police, and we believe that these actions are under political instructions and some pressures.”
The letter points out the police brutality against university students who were supporting Setalvad and wanted to attend her workshop which was eventually held at a different venue. The letter goes on to recall a previous instance, where nearly 100 students protesting a visit by right wing big wigs, had been detained by the police a night before the visit, to ensure smooth operations. It finally states how the police, by their own admission, have no authority on campus premises.
CJP hopes that the police authorities take cognizance of the matters raised in the letter, resist political pressure and act more responsibly in future.