'Not stones, but wallets': Jamia students refute Delhi Police's claim of 'holding stones' in CCTV footage

  • The Delhi Police reportedly released a video from the day of the 15 December Jamia violence, in which people can be seen with stones in their hands, in response to the video released by the JCC

  • Delhi Police questioned the veracity of the videos and said that some appear to be edited

  • The police had entered the Jamia campus on 15 December and allegedly fired tear gas shells after incidents of torching of vehicles in the vicinity were reported

The Delhi Police’s Crime Branch reportedly released a video, in which people can be seen allegedly with stones in their hands, in response to the video released by the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) showing cops entering the library in the varsity and attacking students.

The Delhi Police Crime Branch's Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Sunday released CCTV footage, allegedly of the 15 December Jamia violence, in which people can be seen in a balcony with stones in their hands. The video has been accessed by India Today, and Firstpost cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.

Another video went viral on social media, showing persons being ushered into the library, allegedly with stones in some of their hands. As soon as 15-20 persons entered the library, a table was dragged and placed to block the entry point. The Crime Branch sources told India Today that the police were trying to locate these men after some vehicles were torched outside the university during Jamia violence.

However, as per a JCC statement and reported by News18, students hid in the room to remain safe amid the violence. “Students also later switched off the lights and made SOS calls. This has already been stated in statement given by students to NHRC,” the JCC said. The university’s students reportedly hid in washrooms and locked doors to keep police personnel out.

A CNN-News18 reporter on Monday also shared a video on Twitter quoting Jamia students refuting the allegation of the Delhi Police that one student in the video had a stone in his hand. Posting a clip of the video in which students in the library can be seen discussing the situation, the reporter Saahil Murli Menghani said students told him, "If you look carefully, you will see that the students are not holding stones, but their wallets, which they also open at a point in the video."

Further, the students explain, "In the library, students take their wallets out of their back pockets often and keep them on the table so that they are able to sit comfortably and study."

The JCC had released a video, dated 15 December, 2019, showing uniformed personnel entering the Old Reading Hall in Jamia Millia Islamia at 6.08 pm and beating up students with batons and lathis. The video is from the same evening when police and paramilitary personnel entered the campus amid protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Tear gas shells were fired on campus and students were lathi-charged. Over 100 students were injured, but two months later, no FIR has been registered on the complaints filed against the police by the university and students.

According to a report in The Hindu, an officer of Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police-rank said that the police did not enter its library and thrash students. “A DCP-rank officer took a video in which it is shown that students were asked to leave the library. They were then taken to a safe place with their bags on their heads so that they would not be hit by stones. Whether the library was ransacked is a matter of investigation. Our force did not enter the library,” the officer said. The officer termed the tear gas shells entering the library as “collateral damage” as they were fired from a distance.

Delhi Police questioned the veracity of the videos, with Special CP (Crime) Praveer Ranjan saying, “We have taken cognisance of the videos that have emerged. We received footage from JMI a few days ago only after repeatedly requesting them to hand it over to us. We have to verify the footage, see if it’s been doctored, and also establish the chain of sequence.”

Ranjan told Indian Express that police had entered the campus on 15 December in pursuit of rioters who had started pelting stones at the police. He added that the video released by the JCC appears to be edited. “It appears that the protesters were prepared with stones. Who sits in a library with a mask? They were not unarmed. The sequence, once established, will clarify everything,” Ranjan said.

Delhi Police spokesperson MS Randhawa too said that the 44-second video appears to be edited. He said that the library may have had some innocent students, but “it’s also clear that many who entered the library were armed protesters”.

Speaking to News18, the Delhi Police additionally said that on 15 December when the "students were firing petrol bombs from inside the campus, the police went inside and charged with sticks. Watching the video carefully gives a clear picture. The students are studying with their faces covered. This is a clear picture, why will the students sit with their face covered?"

Questioning the veracity of the video, the police further asked how students were peacefully reading inside a library when there was chaos outside — petrol bombs being hurled and tear gas being deployed. News18 reported that the police have launched an independent investigation into the video.

 Not stones, but wallets: Jamia students refute Delhi Polices claim of holding stones in CCTV footage

File image of policemen outside Jamia Millia Islamia University. PTI

JMI PRO Ahmad Azeem said that the university did not release the video. “It has come to our notice that some video with regard to police brutality in Dr Zakir Husain Library of the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) is in circulation. This is to clarify that the video has not been released by the university,” he said. He also clarified that the JCC is not an official body of the university. "Any communication from JCC should not be taken as version of the university," Azeem said.

Chaos reigned at Jamia Millia Islamia on 15 December, when police entered the campus to look for ''outsiders'' who were reportedly involved in incidents of violence and arson a few metres away from the educational institute during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

During the clashes, a law student Mohammad Minhajuddin lost sight in an eye after being hit by the police. "I was studying in the MPhil section of Jamia’s central library when 20-25 policemen, armed with sticks and wearing helmets, arrived there and started hitting everyone around. I was first hit on my hand that left a finger fractured, and then I was hit on my eye," Minhajuddin had said in a video posted by journalist Rajdeep Sardesai.

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Updated Date: Feb 17, 2020 17:22:07 IST