Saturday, February 17, 2018
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What happened  in and around Allahabad University on Thursday  was most unfortunate. Police lathi charge, police firing and the brutal manner in which the boys were treated-even girls were not spared-can never be justified especially if the police began it all without any provocation. 

We abhor violence, we are opposed to the destruction of public property. But once the unprovoked police behaviour started the whole thing the rest of it followed. I am told by eye witnesses that at one stage the  cops had to flee in the face of the students rage that was caused by the thoughtless action of the cops.

The police should ask itself: Could the whole thing be averted? Probably yes if only the police had not provoked the boys by drenching them with water. The cops should not have got excited when there was no reason for them to do so. If reports in different  newspapers are to be relied upon, the police started it all even when the agitators had assured that theirs would be a peaceful protest. I would not go into the details and the reasons behind the agitation . Suffice it to say that the students did have a cause to espouse and their consequent resentment was also understandable though their violence not justified,

It is high time the police and the administration realized that all matters cannot be solved by lathis and firing of gunshots, even in the air. The officials  and the cops have passed through their youthful days and should be knowing how a young man would feel in a given situation. But a young man has not passed through the old age. Hence he thinks that everything the old people do is wrong. It will take them time to realize that what the elders were doing was not wrong in all cases though in some cases there may be no meeting point because of the generation gap.
I have been watching from close quarters student agitations since 1955. Prior to that I heard how students in 1948--the leftists led by Asif Ansari-- had  raised slogans against Mrs Roosevelt(wife of US President Roosevelt)when she was visiting the campus with Mrs Vijaylaxmi Pandit and asked them to ‘Go Back’. So annoyed was Nehru that he resigned in protest from the permanent membership of the AU students union.
But then I saw the same Nehru accepting an invitation from the Students Union. He was addressing them in the Senate Hall when B.N.Jha was the Vice Chancellor. Nehru had agreed to become the member again. Bipin Chandra, a Muirian, was the Union President then. When B.N.Jha said in his speech, ‘Hamen hamara khoya hua Jawahar mil gaya’ the cheering was so loud that even Nehru, pacing up and down on the dais impatiently, paused for a while and smiled.
 I remember when a student leader Lakhan Singh was on hunger strike. Students had gheraoed the VC’s office and were not allowing him to move out. But he did move out. He was told by students, ‘Go back into your chamber. Don’t come out’. And he said ‘I will’ and took a step forward. The boys kept on saying, ‘Don’t come forward’. And the VC kept on saying ‘I will’ and would take a step forward. Finally when he reached the end of the verendah and was stepping out, the miracle happened. Students themselves made the way for him to go out. No lathi charge took place. No gun  shots in the air . No water balloons were burst, no rubber pellets fired. I was a witness to this scene.
The late Rahman Ali once told me that in subsequent years once Dr Sri Ranjan, then the VC, was surrounded by some tough guys from the campus. Dr Ranjan told them, ‘Don’t try to show your muscle power to me. I am also a muscleman from Varanasi and will hit back.’ The boys were chastened.   Once again no police was called. No gunshot was fired. No lathi charge took place. And yet the demonstrators  in those days had a cause. Sometimes the situation did go out of control. But the authorities did not lose their head. They maintained their calm and managed to defuse the crisis.

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