Kashif Ahmad Faraz | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI—The brutal assault by police on students of the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) on December 15 last year is still haunting the minds of the university students. Jamia students, along with local residents were trying to march to Parliament in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) when they were stopped on Mathura. In the process, some buses and private vehicles were set afire. While the police blame the students for the arson, the students alleged that it was the handiwork of the police to defame them.
But police chased them up to the university. The cops entered the university campus and stormed into the library where hundreds of students were studying. But police believed that they were the same students who were part of the procession marching to Parliament and were involved in the arson.
The library was badly wrecked and anyone who came within the reach and sight of the police were badly beaten up. Many of the students were asked to surrender with their hands up as if they were criminals.
A law student Minhajuddin lost vision in his left eye due to beating by the police. After treatment of injuries in his eye, he had joined a law firm but felt severe strain in his eyes. He now works in civil court in Samastipur, his home town in Bihar.
Recollecting what happened on December 15, 2019, Afzal Khan, who is studying MA in International Relations, told India Tomorrow, “Due to a large number of teargas shells fired by police, we ran into the campus for refuge because it contained chilly and smoke. We unable to breathe and our eyes were burning. We rushed to upper floor of the library and shut the door but police broke the door with batons. We tried to save female students but police didn’t leave them too and beat them indiscriminately. Many students got hit on head, several suffered fractures in their hands and legs. Law student Minhajuddin even lost his one eye”.
“We were shocked and pained to see the communal slur used against us by police. We heard them saying, Mullon ab lagao azaadi ke naare, hum tumhe azaadi denge, Zyada dikkat hai yahan to Pakistan chale jao.(You Muslims, now raise ‘Azadi’ +slogan. We will give you ‘Azadi’. You can go to Pakistani if you have problems in India). Hatred against Muslims was reflected from their language”, alleged Khan.
Speaking on the trauma faced on that night, Afzal said, “The incidents changed my life. and my beautiful memories about Jamia turned into a sad one. Whenever I pass by that area, the visuals of violence scare me and it becomes very hard to overcome from that trauma”.
Aman Pandey, doing MA in Convergent Journalism from JMI said, “After the buses were burnt by unknown people in New Friends Colony area, the police used force against everyone and, we were holding placards for asking peace because every Jamia student believe in peaceful agitation but still police fired tear shells on us. We were sure that Police won’t enter inside the campus but they stormed into the campus and came after us and we took refuge in the library, they still pursued there, we hid in bathroom but they attacked us wherever they found us”.
“After beating students, police made us to surrender with hands like criminals”, recounted Journalism and Mass Communication student Huda Muhammad.
“While forcing to leave campus, they cautioned us to be careful from stone-pelters outside but we saw only tear-gas shells”, she added.
“It was a state-sponsored atrocity that is not healing but deepening by time. After the incident the sense of security in campus has been snatched by state machinery and I could not gather courage to visit library again”, Huda expressed with pain.
Remembering the incident, Jamia law students Saif-Ul-Islam tweeted, “Who would have thought that when Jamia celebrates 100 years, three of its students & President of the Alumni Association of Jamia Millia Islamia (AAJMI) would be in prison. The history of these 100 years is a history of sacrifices. Jamia was established in response to Gandhi’s calls for Swaraj”.
Jamia student Iqra Fatima expressed in her tweet, “A year since the police brutality on students of Jamia. A year since the misuse of state machinery to intimidate protesting students. A year since students resisted all the intimidation and showed the country how the fight must go”.
Speaking to India Tomorrow JMI Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmad Khan said, “We registered our complaint to Jamia police station on 16th dec 2019 and we were told that the case has been transferred to crime branch then we moved to court for filing FIR and now the matter is sub-judice. It was an unfortunate incident; we did our best what we could do. Human rights team visited the campus, we gave our report to MHRD and set up the fact-finding committee and submit the report to court and the matter is sub judice”.
“Despite of these incidents, with efforts of Jamia VC and administration we are under 10 in government university ranking. In MHRD survey, we are in 1st ranking. Jamia’s scientist was seen in the global list of highly cited researchers. Many remarkable research and development work has been done by Jamia”, he added.