AMU students vacate hostels amid uneasy calm after Sunday night clashUpdated: Dec 16, 2019 19:56 IST
Uneasy calm prevailed at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Monday -- a day after police entered the campus, leading to a clash between the students and the cops.
On Monday morning, large groups of students were seen moving out of the campus and searching for transportation to leave for their home towns, following the varsity administration’s order for them to vacate hostels after the violence witnessed on Sunday night.
“We were told to vacate the hostels immediately so we packed our bags. Now, I am looking for a bus to reach Deoria,” said Noor Alam, a student.
About a dozen UPSRTC buses were seen parked at the AMU circle for those students who had to travel less than 350 km to reach their home towns. University officials said that arrangements were also being made to facilitate train travel for students from the states of Assam, Bihar and West Bengal.
However, there was a sentiment that students had been treated unfairly.
Speaking about the stone pelting on the campus on Sunday night, Alam said, “Even if there was stone pelting by a handful of people, the police should have shown restraint. But they chose to lathicharge students. Parked vehicles were damaged and police even entered the hostel rooms. Several students were injured and there was property damage too.”
Another student, Rehan Ahmed of MSc final, was clearly in a hurry to leave for his native town, Faizabad. So was B Tech student Faizal Khan who had vacated his hostel Sulaiman Hall and was rushing to catch a bus to Shahjahanpur.
Human Rights research scholar Mohd Hasan Raza blamed the Centre for the unrest across universities. He said that although the AMU administration had indicated that research scholars and junior resident doctors could stay on the campus, he felt they too would have to leave soon.
“Winter vacations were announced from December 24 and accordingly, I made a reservation to leave for my native place, Chapra in Bihar. But the way the Aligarh administration and AMU authorities are pressurising students now, I doubt that we will be able to stay here till December 23,” said Raza.
Mohd Kaif, a research scholar from Badaun in UP, said that minorities were being cornered and were facing exclusion in government policies.
“These are not reforms. Politics is being played in the name of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which is why resentment is being witnessed across the nation. Universities are just soft targets,” he said while showing the Bab-e-Syed metal gate, which was allegedly damaged by the police when they entered the campus on Sunday night, to this reporter.
‘NO DINING FACILITY FROM TUESDAY’
Students said that the focus of the district and the AMU administrations was in getting the hostels vacated as soon as possible. This was corroborated by what the varsity spokesperson Shafey Kidwai told HT.
“The dining facility will be available till Monday evening, as the winter vacation has been preponed. There will be no dining facility from Tuesday onward,” said Kidwai.
HIGH LEVEL MEETING
Rahat Abrar, public relations officer of AMU, said that as soon as a decision was taken to prepone the vacations, the varsity administration started working to provide transportation facility to the students.
“A high level meeting presided by vice-chancellor Prof Tariq Mansoor was held at 10 am on Monday. It was decided to provide bus service to students whose home towns are within a distance of 350 kilometres from here. Meanwhile, non-stop trains, mainly those heading towards Bihar, Assam and West Bengal, will have a stoppage at Aligarh to help students of these states head home,” he said.
The meeting was also attended by Pro-VC Prof Akhtar Haseeb, registrar Abdul Hamid, deans of various faculties and provosts of halls, said Abrar.
‘OUTSIDERS MINGLED WITH STUDENTS’
Speaking about police entry at the varsity, Abrar said that cops were permitted to enter the campus “to tackle antisocial elements, mostly outsiders,” who were creating a ruckus, which ultimately led to violence on Sunday night.
“Our students were peacefully protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act all through the past week. The situation got violent when antisocial elements mingled with our students. About half-a-dozen students suffered injuries and had to be admitted to the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College of AMU,” he said.
Abrar said the chief medical superintendent of the hospital and JNMC principal Prof Shahid Ali Siddiqui had assured AMU authorities that the students admitted to JNMC were out of danger.
VARSITY TO REOPEN ON JAN 6
Shafey Kidwai said that all the provost offices and the DSW (Dean Student Welfare) office would remain open to assist students who were returning home. “The university will also provide financial assistance to the students who do not have the money to go back home,” he said.
“We aim to have the hostels vacated within a day or two but research scholars and junior resident doctors will be allowed to stay. Besides, those having existing reservations within the next two days will also be allowed to stay on till that time,” he said, adding that the university would reopen on January 6.
Reportedly, about 15,000 students reside in various hostels, called halls, on the AMU campus.
AMUTA DEMANDS JUDICIAL PROBE
Prof Shahid Ali Siddiqui of JNMC said on Monday evening, “Around 40-45 students were brought to the JNMC after the clash with police on Sunday. Most of these students were discharged after receiving first aid but four are still admitted here.”
He said that one of the admitted students had abdominal trouble, one had head injury, while two others had hand injuries.
Meanwhile, the Aligarh Muslim University Teachers’ Association (AMUTA) demanded a judicial probe into the Sunday night violence. “Our students were holding peaceful protests but things went out of hand in the night, which was probably because of outsiders. The students who were detained should be released immediately and a judicial probe must be ordered into the incident,” said Prof Nazrul Islam, honorary secretary of AMUTA.
USED MINIMUM FORCE: POLICE
Police said they were trying to identify those who had indulged in violence and stone pelting.
Additional director general of police (Agra zone) Ajay Anand said the situation was under control and an FIR had been lodged against unidentified persons in connection with the violence. “We are trying to identify the miscreants through the video footage available. After that arrests would be made. Also, hostels are being vacated,” he said.
The police also rubbished allegations of “insensitivity towards students” and said that cops entered the campus only after obtaining written permission from the university administration.
Senior superintendent of police, Aligarh, Akash Kulhari said that 21 students had been detained. “We were not responsible for the situation. We entered through the Bab-e-Syed Gate only after obtaining written permission from the university administration. As the police entered, students and antisocial elements on the campus began pelting us with stones and bottles. We only burst tear gas shells to disperse the crowd and to get a hold on the situation. Allegations of police being barbaric towards students, including girls, are completely baseless. However, we will probe these allegations and if they are found true, necessary action will be taken against the personnel concerned,” he said.
Kulhari said that minimum force was used and 17 policemen and three students were reported to have been injured in the incident.
So far, two FIRs have been lodged at the Civil Lines police station, said police.
To recall, AMU witnessed a massive clash between students and the police late on Sunday evening after some students who were protesting against the CAA reportedly resorted to violence.
SCHOOLS TO REMAIN CLOSED
Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, schools would remain closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, said district magistrate Chandra Bhushan Singh.
On Monday, various establishments, including schools and major markets, in the vicinity of the university remained closed on Monday in the aftermath of the Sunday night clash.
Heavy security, including rapid action force, was deployed in sensitive areas of Aligarh such as Shahajmal, Upar Kot, Rasalganj Medical road, Dodpur, Jamalpur and Sarai Sultani.
Police remained on their toes even as the city was divided into 25 sectors with 72 magistrates being deployed to maintain calm.
In the sensitive Upar Kot area, some Muslim women gathered to express support for AMU students and condemned “police high-handedness”.