Jamia Millia Islamia, a central university in Delhi was attacked by the Delhi Police on December 15, 2019. The police entered the university and lathi-charged the students, fired tear gas, and also damaged the university library, hostels, and other public spaces in the university. The students claimed the violence was an act of police brutality.
These students were protesting the recently passed, Citizenship Amendment Act and the course of the protest seemed to be peaceful till a lathi charge ensued.
Before the police entered the campus, four public buses and two police vehicles had been set on fire in New Friends Colony, it remains unclear as to who started the fires. According to the police, these protestors entered the university campus, which is nearby, on being chased by the police. Students later issued a statement dissociating themselves from the violence and maintained that their protest was peaceful. As the Jamia vice-chancellor Najma Akhtar has pointed out, the police did not take the university administration’s permission before entering the campus.
“Police were after a huge group indulging in things near Jullena. When they went after them, some people entered the university for safety. So police entered after them without our permission,” she told the Indian Express. Akhtar said the usage of tear gas cannons was wrong. “Students are scared and this is wrong. We have spoken to everybody. My registrar has spoken to the joint commissioner on the entire matter.”
A number of students were grievously injured. Videos doing the rounds on social media by the students themselves and those shot by media houses, show students bleeding, lying on the ground and being beaten. The police brutality that took place is clearly visible in these videos. There have also been unconfirmed reports of police firing, though the police have denied these claims. The police also reportedly dragged students out of the library and campus mosque, and marched them out with their hands in the air and detained them. At least 100 people were reportedly injured in Sunday’s violence.
Activist Harsh Mander and advocate Choudhary Ali Zia Kabir met the students detained at Kalkaji police station after the police first tried to stop anyone from going in to meet them. In a statement they released after their meeting, the two said that students told them the campus was “stormed” by the police – and that they were not involved in the violence outside. Several students were severely injured, they said, including ones who claimed not even to be part of the protest.
“One student reported that he is suffering from a heart problem and is not being provided medicine. He was simply studying in the library wherefrom he was picked up and assaulted along his way to the police station. He identified himself as Chandan Singh. He requested that the CCTV cameras in library and the campus would reveal CRPF and Delhi Police being violent, CRPF more so. All the students agreed with him. Later Chandan had fits, fell off from the chair while he was offered food and started gasping for breath. On request of the intervenors he was taken to the hospital by the police,” their statement says.
Reports of police brutality have also been coming in from Aligarh Muslim University, including allegations that the police is trying to enter locked women’s hostels.
As news of the violence and detentions made rounds of social media, large numbers of students from across Delhi gathered at the Delhi police headquarters at ITO to protest. The hundreds who gathered shouted slogans and demanded the immediate release of all detained students, as well as action against the police for the campus violence.
Twitter was full of tweets with the hashtag #ResignAmitShah and #BJPburningDelhi, people were shocked that the police unleashed such brutality onto mere unarmed 18 to 21-year-olds. The #ResignAmitShah hashtag has been trending ever since and the students of the college are sharing horrendous videos from inside the campus of extreme police brutality.
The situation yesterday night within the campus was harrowing, tear gas cannons, lathi charges and stone-pelting. Police officials at the spot claimed their action was in retaliation against the stone-throwing by the students inside the campus. A video showing police emptying a bottle full of liquid into the bus went viral, but today morning a Delhi Police officer issued a statement saying - “These buses are still there. They were not set on fire. You can go and see them. We were carrying water.”
The Supreme Court today morning, stated that they will be hearing the case tomorrow. The "rioting" must stop and there should be peace, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said to a request to take note of police action on students at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday evening during protests against the citizenship law.