NEW DELHI (AP) — Police chased and stuck protesting students with batons after they marched through India’s capital Thursday to demand the resignation of a university official following an attack at their school by masked assailants.
About 1,000 students and faculty from Jawarhalal Nehru University marched to a government office to demand the resignation of the school’s vice chancellor, who some accuse of allowing the assailants armed with hammers, shovels and other weapons to ransack a university dorm and beat up students on Sunday.
Dorm residents said the attack lasted two hours, and that neither the guards who live in the building nor any other security came to their aid. More than 20 people were injured.
After reaching the government office on Thursday, a splinter group of several dozen students decided to continue marching toward the president of India’s official residence.
The students were met with a bus full of baton-wielding police.
Utkarsh, a JNU student, said an officer struck him in the head with his baton and attacked others. He gave only his first name, fearing police reprisal.
Footage captured by The Associated Press showed one officer repeatedly hitting a female protester in the back of her legs while other protesters fled.
Police then forced the students onto a bus, where one person could be seen bleeding from his head. It was not immediately clear where the students were being taken. Calls to police officials were not immediately answered.
Opposition parties and injured students blamed Sunday’s university attack on Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student organization linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.
They say the attack was meant to stop a monthslong protest against a tuition increase that went into effect in November. Communist-linked student organizations say the fee hike makes education too expensive for many.
New Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik said Sunday’s incident was a clash between rival student groups. No arrests have been made.
New Delhi and cities across India have seen regular protests since a controversial citizenship law was passed last month that provides a path to naturalization for religious minorities from several neighboring countries but excludes Muslims. Opponents say the law violates India’s secular constitution.
India’s Supreme Court is set to review petitions challenging the law on January 20.
Associated Press writer Rishi Lekhi contributed.
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