Jamia clashes in Delhi spark night of student protests across India
The protests against a new citizenship law are spreading across the country, and the national capital was also singed. The epicentre was Jamia Milia Islamia University where three days of peaceful demonstration against the law, passed by Parliament last week, descended into chaos on Sunday afternoon.
The protesters torched four buses and two police vehicles as they clashed with cops in New Friends Colony, near the university, during a demonstration against the newly enacted law on Sunday, leaving nearly 60 people including students, cops and fire fighters injured.
Police used batons and teargas shells to disperse the violent mob, but denied firing at them.
Following the arson on roads, police entered the Jamia university campus, where tension prevailed as several people were detained for alleged involvement in the violence. The students claimed that the police fired tear gas inside the university’s library and beat up protesters before sealing all campus gates.
‘Situation under control now’: Delhi cop on violent protest | Citizenship law
“We were treated like criminals. Scores were injured and I escaped from the campus to save my life,” said Tufail Ahmad, a student. Many of the injured students were taken to nearby hospitals, including Holy Family, where about 26 students were treated, according to Father George, the hospital’s spokesman.
In the violence and stone pelting, several policemen were injured, including southeast district DCP, Additional Deputy Commissioner of police (South), two Assistant Commissioner of Police, five Station House Officers, inspectors and other police personnel. Among them, Head Constable Maqsool Ahmad is admitted in ICU with severe head injuries.
Soon after the violence, Jamia Millia Islamia Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmed Khan claimed the Delhi Police entered the campus forcibly without permission and beat up staffers and students, who were forced to leave the campus. As many as 50 students were detained, but were released around 3.30am on Monday.
On Sunday night, hundreds had gathered outside the Delhi Police headquarters at ITO demanding the release of detained students.
After the police crackdown on the Jamia students, protests erupted on campuses across the country and continued through the night. The situation turned violent in the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Sunday night after the students clashed with cops. The police fired tear gas shells at protesters who pelted stones at them.
The AMU is shut for the winter break, which has been extended by a week. It will now reopen on January 6, 2020.
Students of Moulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), in Hyderabad, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi and Kolkata’s Jadavpur University also held demonstrations in solidarity with the Jamia students. MANUU students’ union wrote to controller of examination of university on Monday morning, requesting postponement of examination since “students are boycotting them over police action on students at Delhi’s Jamia university”.
As a precautionary measure following Sunday’s protests, Delhi Traffic Police has closed traffic movement from Sarita Vihar to Kalindi Kunj, road no. 13A.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, which had closed suspended services at some stations due to violence, resume normal operations on Monday morning.
Jamia vice-chancellor has said she is deeply hurt by the way students were treated by the police and backed them after many of them were detained following a protest march against the citizenship law turned violent on Sunday.
“I am deeply hurt by the barbaric way my students were treated. It is absolutely unacceptable the way police entered the university and caned the students, who were studying in the library,” vice-chancellor Najma Akhtar said in a video released by the university.
“We are all in this together and will remain so. You are not alone,” she said.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, meanwhile, said any kind of violence is unacceptable and that protests should remain peaceful. “Spoke to Hon’ble LG and urged him to take all steps to restore normalcy and peace. We are also doing everything possible at our end. Real miscreants who caused violence shud be identified and punished,” he said on Twitter.
The Delhi government has announced that all schools will remain closed in Okhla, Jamia Nagar and New Friends Colony areas (all in South Delhi) due to protests.