Delhi Citizenship Act stir: Locals take to streets; Jamia defers examsUpdated: Dec 15, 2019 05:37 IST
Situation at the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) remained volatile on Saturday as hundreds of people, mostly local residents and others in the area, gathered in and around the university, protested the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and vandalised public property.
On Friday, students had clashed with police over the issue. After students called for a boycott of examinations, the university on Saturday advanced its winter vacations and postponed the semester examination indefinitely.
“Winter vacation declared from December 16 to January 5,” university’s media coordinator Ahmad Azeem said. The vacation was slated to begin from December 24. The students’ community is, however, not pleased with the move.
“The decision to reschedule exams is a move to scuttle democratic protests. We had given only a one-day boycott. Postponing exams would lead to a lot of problems for hostellers, foreign exchange students, and those who were planning to travel outstation. We urge the administration to reconsider their decision,” said Shaheen Abdullah, a postgraduate student and one of the organisers of Friday’s protest.
“Taking stock of the situation today and yesterday’s violence, we wanted to ensure situation doesn’t escalate or get worse. This is why we decided to close the university,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
On Saturday, at around 5pm, protesters, mainly locals, blocked the arterial Maulana Mohammad Jauhar Ali Marg. Till late evening, the protesters vandalised signposts, bus stop and grilles along the metro pillars with canes and sticks.
“The students were shouting that we did not join the protests yesterday. Today, we are here to protest against the anti-Muslim bill,” said a protester, who refused to divulge his identity and had covered his face with a handkerchief.
Chinmoy Biswal, deputy commissioner of police (south-east), said while Jamia students remained mostly confined to their campus on Saturday, it was the locals who attempted to march despite the heavy police presence in the area through the day.
“Around 400 police personnel have been deployed at strategic points to prevent any violence. Some locals have tried to create trouble, but we have been able to contain them,” said Biswal.
Police said they were verifying authenticity of certain videos they received wherein people could be seen filling petrol in bottles and carrying sticks. “It could be possible that some people were trying to make petrol bombs. We will know who they were once we analyse the videos and identify the people featuring in them. But they don’t seem to be students,” said the DCP.
Earlier in the day, the group heckled media persons, damaging their equipment and inflicting injuries. The students’ and teachers’ groups condemned the violence and dissociated themselves from them.
Jamia Teachers’ Association also urged the students “not to be misguided and keep away from instigators.”
The students collective said, “No student was involved in the attack. Such actions, students believe, are being done to delegitimize a genuine protest.” Students put up graffiti within the Jamia campus against the Act.
On Friday, after the students protesting against CAA-NRC were stopped from marching to Parliament, the protests took a violent turn with police resorting to lathicharge and students retaliating back with stones.