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An effort to ensure that the National Law University (NLU Delhi) administration follows through with the recent directive of the Labour Minister to reinstate terminated safai karamcharis culminated in the police threatening and briefly detaining a student and a worker on Friday.
As per a statement issued by the student-run NLUD Workers-Students Solidarity, the terminated workers and a student, wielding the the Labour Minister's order, had assembled at the University gate on Friday morning to meet with the administration.
After they were denied entry into the campus by the guard on duty, they remained at the University gate while maintaining social distance for about an hour before police officers arrived.
Whereas the police officers initially permitted the gathering to remain at the gates, the arrival of Sub-Inspector Anuj Yadav led to bouts of verbal abuse of threats, the students say.
The gathering divided themselves into four groups after SI Yadav's arrival, with about 4-5 workers each to avoid an assembly of more than 5 people at one place. However, it is stated that,
A request was made to allow the entry of one student and one worker into the campus to meet the administration, to no avail.
Things appeared to take a turn for the worse after a worker began to record the developments on her phone. At this juncture, it is stated that the police forcefully took the worker into custody. The NLU Delhi student was also detained on allegations that she had instigated the workers to protest.
At the police station, two officers are alleged to have made veiled threats over the issue.
The worker and the student were eventually released following the intervention of friends, lawyers and activists. However, the student statement adds that they were released "with a warning that they would be booked by way of an FIR under Section 188 and 144 if they were found in the vicinity of the University."
When reached for comment by Bar & Bench, the University administration denied being aware of the incident, responding that it was incorrect to state that they had refused to meet with the students.
The full statement, as e-mailed to Bar & Bench on Friday states,
Students, however, assert that the police officials themselves stated that they have been called in by the University administration.
Responding to the University's stance, the students also added, "the university is taking refuge under the fact that University is not functional due to COVID 19 that's why no one came to meet us. We would like to say that the office staff was entering the university premises yesterday. They came for their duties."
New housekeeping staff are also being allowed entry to perform their duties, the students said.
55 house-keeping staff, engaged under a contract with White Fox and Golden, were terminated from service in December last year. NLU Delhi entered into a contract with Rajendra Management Group (RMG) to hire around 30 new workers instead.
Students of NLU Delhi registered protest over the termination as being violative of labour laws.
The NLU Delhi administration denied having terminated any house-keeping staff from their end, given that the housekeeping staff members were hired by the concerned service provide.
On June 17, Delhi's Labour Minister Gopal Rai directed the University to reinstate the Safai Karamcharis. In a response made a day earlier, the NLU Delhi administration stated that it cannot "assure of giving continuous employment such type of workers in the future", given that it is not a direct party to the issue.
Read the Statement released by the NLUD Workers-Students Solidarity: