On February 15, 2020, Jamia Co-ordination Committee (JCC), a group of students, and alumni shared video footage of December 15, 2019, showing Delhi Police officers charging at students in the research scholars section of the library of the university.
On December 15, 2019, violence was let loose on the campus following by the students protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The police were accompanied by masked men in the footage raising a lot of speculations and opinions on the role of police in the matter as the police had maintained a stringent stand of not inflicting violence against the university students.
According to sources, the policemen in the video appeared to be in riot gears and were armed with batons, which they used to hit the students.
A student, who was a witness to the incident, said in an interview, “They (police) did not care about anything. They ransacked everything that came in their way and ruthlessly beat students. Some students took refuge inside washrooms, but they were also not spared. I was beaten and had to be hospitalised. Inside (the library) they broke everything, beat students without any care and regard for standard operating procedure. They beat students on their heads and mostly upper part of the body.”
As the clashes between the protestors of CAA and the police gained momentum, many were left injured by the tear gas and baton attacks employed by the police to disperse the demonstrators. The police had barged into the campus and detained around 100 students. A student lost sight of his left eye as an aftermath of being injured in the clashes.
The police had previously adhered to their statement of entering the campus after miscreants had set fire to buses in the vicinity and taken shelter inside the university grounds. The viral video has put forward several questions and accusations against the police whose role is being continuously challenged at present.
Last month, a minor had opened fire at Shaheen Bagh, injuring a JMI student, and the police had remained mere spectators. Moreover, the police had also remained passive when masked assailants intruded Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) hostels, attacked the resident students along with teachers with sticks, sledgehammers, iron rods, and destroyed property.
On the same night as the Jamia attack, the police had taken action against the students of the Aligarh Muslim University as well.
The Indian Parliament passed the CAA on December 11, 2019, granting citizenship rights to six minorities communities apart from Muslims from the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who arrived in India before 2015.
The act is highly controversial triggering nation-wide protests; has been regarded as “discriminatory” concerning Muslims, challenging the fundamentals of secularism, and equality laid forward by the Indian Constitution. However, the central government maintains that the act is justified as it will preserve the Hindu and Christian minorities from persecution in the countries mentioned above.
Though the Jamia University has stated that the source of the video is not the university, they also informed that several accounts and pages on social media, using the university’s name, are responsible for creating confusion. The university has also clarified that the actions of the JCC are not to be considered as official university communication.
The attack has received severe lashing on social media including “#Shame on Delhi Police” to be trending on Twitter.
The political parties have engaged in blame-game after the release of the clipping. Modi government has blamed Congress for inciting violence against CAA. Congress leaders have taken to Twitter to express their grievances.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, senior Congress leader, wrote, “See how Delhi Police is badly thrashing the students. A boy is reading a book, but a cop continues to beat him. Home Minister (Amit Shah) and Delhi Police had lied that they had not entered the library, thrashed the students”.
Shashi Tharoor tweeted,
The CPI(M) has also blamed the centre for the attack.
After facing such criticism, senior police officer Praveer Ranjan assured in an interview with a renowned news agency that the authenticity of the video would be duly investigated.
The United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch have showcased their concerns regarding the implementation of CAA. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the law is “fundamentally discriminatory in nature”.
As the controversies and protests against the CAA continue, the subsequent developments regarding the issue are much-awaited.