Video appears to contradict cops on Dec 15 Jamia action
The police said that they will probe the clip, which prompted a top Jamia official to say that it vindicates the university’s stand.
The Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) on Sunday tweeted a video purportedly showing security personnel in masks barging into a library at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia and baton-charging students during a crackdown on protests against India’s controversial citizenship law.
The 44-second clip, which appeared to be from CCTV, contradicts the police’s claim that they did not enter the library on December 15, the day protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, flared up in the national capital and clashes broke out near the university.
The police said that they will probe the clip, which prompted a top Jamia official to say that it vindicates the university’s stand. The video also triggered a barrage of criticism by opposition leaders who condemned the use of force against students inside the premier institute.
“We have taken cognisance of the latest video of Jamia Millia Islamia University which has surfaced now; we will investigate it,” special commissioner of police (crime) Praveer Ranjan said. He is the head of the crime branch, which is probing the clashes.
The video shows around eight-nine personnel in police and paramilitary uniform entering the library and charging at people sitting in front of laptops. The faces of those wearing uniforms are covered. It also shows some students scurrying to a corner just seconds before that.
Hours later, a second video surfaced on the social media, purportedly showing a suspected rioter carrying a stone and taking shelter in the library, while other people — some of them with their faces covered — appear to arrange desks to block the entrance. It was not clear if it was shot before or after the purported police action. And in a third video, a group of people — some carrying stones — is seen in a corridor purportedly inside the campus on the same day.
HT could not independently verify the authenticity of the videos. It was not clear as to who leaked the footage exactly two months after the clashes, but university officials said that it could be part of the evidence they sent to the police as evidence.
The police have previously denied allegations of their personnel entering the library and beating students, and said that tear gas shells may have damaged the library.
“No police personnel went inside the library or vandalised it. Tear gas shells may have gone inside the library since it was close to the places from where they were being fired,” Delhi Police spokesperson Mandeep Randhawa said on December 16.
When contacted on Sunday, Randhawa said that the crime branch, which is a specialised unit and separate from the local police, is conducting a fair investigation. “The video clip is also part of the probe. They [officials] are looking at CCTV clips to establish the sequence of events. We are appealing to everyone to send any videos they have to help us in our investigation,” he added.
JCC, which comprises students and alumni, shared the first video after a member posted it in a WhatsApp group. Several journalists are part of the group. This person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the video was forwarded to him, but did not disclose who sent it. JCC, spearheading an anti-CAA protest, was formed after the alleged police brutality on the campus in December.
University authorities denied releasing 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,” Ahmad Azeem, the university’s public relations officer, said.
Azeem also said that a communication from the committee does not represent the university’s stand. “Jamia Coordination Committee, which is actually a Joint Coordination Committee of students and alumni of JMI is spearheading the movement against CAA/NRC/NPR outside gate number seven of the university. This is to clarify that JCC is not an official body of the university,” he said, referring also to the protests against the National Population Register exercise and any possible attempts for a National Register of Citizens.
The university has maintained from the very beginning that the police entered the library and attacked students, proctor Wassem Khan said. He added that the university submitted the same CCTV clip to the police and that “it is now the police’s responsibility to find out the source [of the leak]”.
Notwithstanding who shared it, the first video has revealed the truth and put the spotlight on police brutality, according to a section of students.
“An FIR (first information report) must be registered immediately. What other evidence is required to file an FIR against the police? Delhi Police have been exposed. The brutality they unleashed on students has come in public domain now,” said Mohammed Minhajuddin, a law student who claimed to have suffered an eye injury in the assault.
At least 100 students, local residents and police personnel were injured in the December 15 clashes, which began after officials refused permission to anti-CAA protesters for a march. According to the police, protesters turned violent, and damaged at least 30 vehicles. The police resorted to firing tear gas shells to quell the demonstrators. While the police have arrested at least 17 people for the clashes, they are yet to take action for the alleged excesses.
Sharing the first video on Twitter, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sharpened her attack on the central government, which is in charge of law and order in the national capital.
“Look at how Delhi Police is blindly assaulting students in the library. A boy is flashing his book but the policeman is continuing to attack him with batons,” she said in a tweet in Hindi. “If no action is taken even after watching this Jamia video, the government’s intentions would stand exposed before the whole country,” she added.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted: “Every defence of police action on students in universities, offered by (home minister) Amit Shah, is untrue, misleading and politically motivated. Delhi Police comes directly under (PM?Narendra) Modi-Shah and this is how it treats young students studying in a library. Shame.”
Amit Malviya, the IT cell head of the Centre’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, tweeted both the videos separately.
“Students in library with ‘masks’ - Reading from shut books - Looking anxiously towards the entrance rather than being relaxed and immersed in studies, which is what a library is meant for... Anatomy of Jamia rioters who tried hiding in the library after a stone pelting session?” he wrote while sharing the first video.