New Delhi: Journalists including top editors on Tuesday marched in the streets of Delhi protesting against the attack on them by lawyers in the Patiala House court complex on Monday as the political divide on the Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) issue escalated sharply.
The Congress alleged that there is a state of "undeclared emergency" in the country while the BJP hit back, accusing Rahul Gandhi of being a "principal misleader" of Indian politics after he alleged that youth was being muzzled by the government.
The issue also echoed at a meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi called to reach out to the Opposition ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament.
The role of Delhi Police, which was accused of inaction in the face of violence, and its chief B. S. Bassi came under intense attack from political parties and journalists who demanded his sacking.
A day after the unprovoked attack on journalists and students and teachers of the JNU in the court complex yesterday, hundreds of journalists marched to the Supreme Court demanding action.
The journalists took out a two kilometre-long march from the Press Club of India to the Supreme Court and submitted a memorandum to the Registrar, seeking cancellation of licences of lawyers involved in beating of scribes.
A separate delegation of journalists met Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding his intervention in ensuring "accountability of the Delhi Police who watched silently as the assault happened".
At JNU, sections of teachers on Tuesday joined the students and boycotted classes demanding unconditional release of student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, charged with sedition. A section of teachers also condemned last week's incident when anti-India slogans were raised at an event in the campus.
In a related development, the Supreme Court agreed to give an urgent hearing on Wednesday to a plea seeking action against those involved in thrashing the journalists and JNU students and teachers in the Patiala House court complex where Kumar was to be produced.
The petition filed by N. D. Jaiprakash, an alumnus of JNU, who was hurt in the violence on Monday, sought action against the people involved in the violence and over "inaction" on the part of Delhi Police.
Delhi Police Commissioner Bassi told the media that the alleged inaction of police personnel is being probed and the guilty will face action if anyone had transgressed law.
Asked why the policemen present at the court complex did not intervene when the assault was going on, he merely said the issue pertains to people from "two different lines of thought" confronting each other in a charged environment.
When pressed further, he said, "In the investigation, we will also probe whether there was any negligence on part of any police personnel. If it turns out to be so, the concerned official will have to face legal action."
Bassi had on Monday termed the assault as a "minor" incident, saying it was fallout of an emotive issue, comments which evoked strong reaction from journalists and JNU students.
He said police are probing suspected "financial links" between terror outfits and students allegedly involved in the raising of anti-India slogans at JNU.
The Congress stepped up attack on the government, saying there is a state of "undeclared emergency" in the country while BJP accused Rahul Gandhi of being a "principal misleader" of Indian politics after he accused it of muzzling the youth.
"They are suppressing the voice of students in Delhi, Hyderabad, Lucknow. We'll not accept this, we will fight this.
"They are putting RSS VCs(Vice Chancellors) in every University and College, they are trying to suppress the voice of the students," the Congress Vice President told reporters in Sivasagar in Assam.
Seeking to derail any attempt by BJP to turn the protest against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on his third death anniversary at JNU campus into a battle between "patriots and anti-nationals", Congress also demanded that the Supreme Court should ensure an independent investigation.
"We will request the Supreme Court to ensure investigation by an independent agency into the (JNU) incident," party leader and former Union minister Kapil Sabal told reporters.
"It is a state of undeclared emergency with everyone including the bureaucracy living in the shadow of fear? The essence of democracy is right to debate. Democracy needs debate, tolerance and brotherhood," he said.
BJP dismissed as "baseless and wrong" Gandhi's accusations that the party was muzzling the youth by branding them as "anti-nationals" and said the issue is not between the government and any institution but between the country and traitors.
"On the JNU incident, Rahul Gandhi had levelled some accusations against our party. They are baseless, wrong and ineffective. Rahul Gandhi instead of trying to be a leader has become a principal misleader of Indian politics".