New Delhi: Two days after a fact-finding team’s report on police action in Aligarh Muslim University accused Uttar Pradesh police of indiscriminate action against students, another fact-finding report on violence in Jamia Millia Islamia alleged that the Delhi police attacked students protesting against the recently passed Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 with an intent to inflict maximum damage.
“We found broken locks, empty tear-gas shells, broken windows and furniture, blood on the floor, among many other visible signs of the destruction of that night,” the report says.
A six-member team from People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) went to the university and collected testimonies from a number of students, teaching and non-teaching staff, doctors, injured students, their parents, locals, and eyewitnesses on the succession of events in the campus on December 13 and 15. They documented their findings in a report titled ‘Bloody Sunday’ which was released in Delhi on Thursday.
The report attempts to reconstruct the sequence of events of December 13 and 15 when the police reportedly entered the university’s campus and cracked down on students. According to the report, students and teachers had planned a march to the parliament to protest against CAA and nationwide NRC.
However, the police set up barricades to prevent the march and the students attempted to break the barricade and continue their march. This is when the police started firing tear gas shells, reportedly in close proximity to students, and there was chaos on the roads.
The report also mentions that there were injuries to students and the police allegedly stopped injured students from seeking medical assistance.
“Amidst the barrage of tear gassing, someone from the crowd picked up an unexploded tear gas shell and threw it back at the police. On seeing this, some others also followed. One shell exploded in the hand of a student, severing his thumb. As he was taken to Holy Family hospital, his friend tried to follow him with the severed piece of his thumb so the doctors could reattach it, but he was prevented by the police. The friend himself was covered in severe rashes and swelling all over his face from the tear gas,” it says.
The police then entered the university campus without permission and beat up students with batons, the report adds. It also says that the police damaged motorbikes of students, smashing them with batons. The Wire can confirm that there were indeed many damaged motorbikes lying around both inside and outside the university campus.
On December 15, the campus saw another protest gathering though without any formal notice or pre-determined route for a march. Estimates on the size of the gathering vary from a few thousand to over ten thousand. “Before 4:30 pm the rally had bypassed the police barricade and found its way through a branch road to the Mata Mandir Road towards the Mathura Road and some people at the head of the rally had attempted to block traffic on that road,” the PUDR report says.
It is on Mathura Road that two people received bullet injuries. NDTV aired video clips showing three policemen carrying small firearms and firing at protesters. It also shows one person being hit by a bullet. The medical superintendent of Safdarjung hospital has also confirmed receiving and admitting two patients with bullet injuries to NDTV.
After the protesters blocked traffic, the police started firing tear gas shells. Some protestors also started pelting stones at the police at that time, though the identity of these people is still unknown. “People running roadside vends, those at the temple and guards at houses with gates opening onto the road told us that the crowd consisted of very few students who ran back quickly towards campus-side once the police lathicharge started,” the report says.
The police then reportedly entered the university campus again without permission after breaking the locks and threatening the guards. The report claims that the police smashed the security cameras or turned them in a different direction and started lathicharge on students who had taken refuge in the campus. “… the forces began to beat up and lathicharge indiscriminately anyone who they saw on their way, including students both men and women, staff such as guards and workers etc.,” it says.
Just like in AMU, the police resorted to using communal slurs in Jamia as well. The report says slurs like “jihadi”, “deshdrohi” and “katwa” were used by the police while they were cracking down on students. The police also allegedly threatened women with sexual violence.
“The communal abusing continued, ‘Tum mulle ho, katwa ho, tumhein chodenge, tumhare 7 pushton ko chodhenge’,”, alluding to threats of sexual violence,” the report says. The fact finding team also visited the Al-Shifa hospital where injured students were admitted. The Wire had also reported from the hospital last week.
The report further documents the incidents in detail and has also included the police’s version of events. It has multiple testimonies detailing use of excessive force, illegal detention and denial of medical help and destruction of property by the police and paramilitary forces.
PUDR has demanded that an FIR be registered against the police for brutal use of force inside the campus, a Commission of Enquiry be instituted to examine the “unauthorised, unjustified and excessive use of force and wanton acts of destruction” by the Delhi Police and that the police personnel to be posted at police stations in the Jamia area be “sensitised to counter a communal outlook and to ensure civil behaviour as becoming of a public servant”.
The rights organisation has also demanded that police personnel and officers who were part of the attack on students “be shunted out of the police station without delay”.