'They thrashed us, many lost a lot of blood': Jamia Millia Islamia students narrate 'brutal' action by Delhi police during protest against Citizenship Amendment Act
The baton-charge didn't stop in the streets, but the police personnel chased the students inside the Jamia campus and thrashed them. In response to the attack, few students resorted to stone-pelting
The Jamia Millia Islamia university has postponed all semester exams scheduled on Saturday in view of the tense situation in the varsity over the ongoing protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act
The general mood around the campus was that the Centre is trying to propagate discrimination on the basis of religion
However, the undercurrent of anger cannot be ruled out after Friday's police action turned what was to be a peaceful march into a raging protest
The Jamia Millia Islamia university has postponed all semester exams scheduled on Saturday in view of the tense situation in the varsity over the ongoing protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Jamia students called for a university lockdown on Saturday and planned to boycott the exams to protest against contentious Act and also against Friday's violence following clashes with police during their march.
The students are protesting against what they believe is Centre's propaganda to discriminate on the basis of religion. However, the undercurrent of anger cannot be ruled out after Friday's police action turned what was to be a peaceful march into a raging bloody protest.
On Friday, the Jamia Teachers' Association, along with the students, tried to hold a peaceful protest march from the university to the Parliament House against the newly-amended Citizenship Act at 2 pm. However, they were caught unawares when they were about to take the protest from Okhla road to Sukhdev Vihar and head towards Parliament. As soon as they stepped out from Gate Number 7 inside the university, they were held by the police at the junction between Gate Number 1 and Gate Number 4, hardly 50 metres from the main campus. The Delhi Police cordoned off the road and barricaded the area, disallowing the students from even leaving Jamia Nagar.
For good 15 minutes the students protested, eventually trying to overstep and push the barricades, but the police personnel resorted to baton-charge to quell their march.
Ayesha Rahman, a first year B.Ed student from the department of Education, IASE, was among the agitators standing near gate number 1. She said that the crowd close to the barricaded area rushed towards the campus through Gate Number 1 and 4. Slogans of "gate kholo, gate kholo (open the gates)" echoed as the march turned into a stampede-like situation due to police action.
Students complained that they lost their belongings in the chaos, were thrown under people's feet, and had to try to avoid stepping over each other; one person sustained a head injury in the ensuing commotion.
"He lost a lot of blood. So many of us were injured," said Rahman.
"At least forty to fifty students were detained following the clash between the police and students after the protesters were stopped at the varsity gate and stopped from holding a protest," she said.
The baton-charge didn't stop in the streets, but the police personnel chased the students inside the campus and thrashed them. In response to the attack, few students resorted to stone-pelting. Following this, the police fired tear gas shells inside the campus.
"I am a witness to this. My eyes were burning. My face was burning. I was coughing. They threw three-four tear gas shells inside the campus. We ran towards the library and stayed there, but still they continued to flash bomb. This is how they dispersed the crowd," said Rahman.
Authorities have imposed Section 144 near the university, in an attempt to prevent further agitation.
As the university's Gate Number 1 and 4 were later shut, students stuck in the library escaped from gate number 13, hardly 200 metres behind from where the fracas happened. "The students who were arrested for agitating were taken back to Jamia campus around 7 pm," Rahman said.
Following the detention of several students in the fracas, the alumni of Jamia Millia Islamia condemned the "brutality" meted out by the Delhi Police and released a statement.
"We, the alumni of Jamia Millia Islamia, strongly condemn the violence and brutality meted out by the Delhi police against the students of the University on 13 December, 2019, in New Delhi. There is ample evidence through photographs, videos and ground reports that confirm that the police deliberately injured several students with batons, tear gas, shoes, and stones. While many students have suffered serious head injuries and fractures, dozens of them have been picked up by the Delhi police and taken to various police stations in the city," the statement read.
They demanded, "Immediate release of the detained students, action and inquiry against the police brutality and rollback of the Citizenship Amendment Act."
Police, however, denied the allegations.
The police claimed the protesters who were coming from Jamia Millia Islamia were persuaded to protest peacefully near the campus only since Jantar Mantar was already saturated with people and requested not to march towards New Delhi.
However, they got agitated and aggressively confronted the police personnel, police said.
As a precautionary measure, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) shut down the entry and exit points at Patel Chowk and Janpath metro stations following Delhi police's advisory, which were later opened. According to a Delhi Traffic Police alert, traffic movement is closed on both carriageways from Jamia to Sukhdev Vihar and from Mathura Road to Sarai Jullena.
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