NEW DELHI: Over 600 security personnel were deployed to handle the protest on Monday by the Jawaharlal Nehru Students' Union (JNUSU) against the varsity administration's recent decisions, but the "students were not lathicharged", officials said.
Thousands of JNU students clashed with the police as their protest over a steep fee hike escalated, leaving HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' stranded for over six hours at the venue of the varsity's convocation.
The students of the varsity, which has seen several such agitations in the recent years, were protesting outside the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) premises, the venue for the varsity's third convocation, which was addressed by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.
Students claimed the police used force against them and several among them sustained injuries.
However, a senior police officer, said there were orders from seniors to not use force and the on-ground personnel were not even carrying their weapons.
"We were not even carrying lathis. Mild force had to be used to quell the protesters but students were not lathicharged.
"In fact, many of our policemen and women were injured but we do not want to highlight the injuries we sustained. One of the students bit hard on the hand of one of our women personnel while she was trying to control the crowd," the officer said.
The students raised slogans like "Police-walo ki ek bimari, Tis Hazari, Tis Hazari", referring to their clash with lawyers at the city's Tis Hazari court a few days back.
Slogans supporting lawyers, who are on a strike following the clash, were also heard.
Another officer said, barricades were raised outside the north and west gates of JNU in anticipation of the protest early morning and four barricades were placed on the route between the JNU campus and the AICTE building but the students broke through them one after the other and reached the convocation venue around 10.30 am.
The officer said they had received intelligence inputs about the protests becoming big and accordingly paramilitary and police personnel were deployed outside the campus right from morning.
There were 600 personnel on duty, he said. When the protests escalated and the students refused to leave the venue, even after the office-bearers were allowed to meet the HRD minister, police in anti-riot gear were brought to the front of the gate and they quelled the protesters to make way for the convoy of the minister around 4.15 pm, an officer said.
After the minister, some protesters too left the venue but the students' union leaders and several others stayed put and refused to leave till they meet the JNU vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar.
"They finally dispersed at 7 pm and said they would continue their protest against the fee hike in the varsity," said an officer. Water cannons were used to disperse the protestors and police said some of the students were detained.
Top brass of the Delhi Police were at the site to handle the situation. According to an officer, the area falls under the New Delhi range but police personnel from southern range were also involved in the arrangements.
RS Krishnia, special commissioner of police, Law and Order(South), Devesh Srivastava, joint commissioner of police (southern range), Mandeep Singh Randhawa, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) and Kumar Gyanesh, additional deputy commissioner of police (Southeast) were there to provide support.
Krishnia negotiated with the students and asked the police to not touch students when they were protesting.
Joint commissioner of police (New Delhi) Anand Mohan was also there on the spot accompanied by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Devender Arya. Arya said, "Police did not use any kind of force and exercised restraint.
We were constantly in touch with the officials from the administration and the students to ensure that the issues were resolved peacefully. We even facilitated the interaction of the students with the HRD Minister so that they could submit their memorandum of demands".