'Treat us equal, we have right to protest'

At least 400 people, mostly students, protested near Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday demanding justice for Nido Taniam and raising slogans against racial discrimination of people from northeastern states.

They also tried to walk towards Rashtrapati Bhavan, but police resorted to cane charge to disperse them. At least 50 students were detained from the protest site. Police said they had been protesting at Jantar Mantar and broke through security cordon to reach Raisina Hill.

A protester said, “We have been targeted since long. We are protesting to give the message that this is enough now. Treat us equal. In India there is the right to protest so why are they arresting us?” However, police said no one was arrested.

A police officer said at first, police tried to break the protest, but had to detain over 50 students as they refused to relent. Police was already deployed near Vijay Chowk due to a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Protesters claimed that it was meant to be a peaceful anti-racism march taken out by students from all over the capital, mainly Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University. 

“Police lathi charged not just the students walking towards Rashtrapati Bhavan, but also the majority of the protesters who were marching behind near Central Secretariat Metro station,” a protester added.It is also alleged that police chased the students and beat them up even outside the Metro station. “The lathi charge was by no means mild,” the protester said.

Taniam, a BSc student at Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, succumbed to his injuries after being assaulted by some shopkeepers of the Lajpat Nagar market on January 29. His post mortem reports said that he died due to head and lung injuries allegedly suffered in the assault.

On Friday, the Supreme Court also issued notice to the Centre and state governments on a PIL seeking direction to frame guideline to protect people from northeastern states. A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi has sought response from the authorities within four weeks on the issue.

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