Jamia Millia Islamia University: Students recall how the horror unfolded

Updated: Dec 17, 2019, 07:19 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

A blow-by-blow students' account of the night of terror

Jamia Millia Islamia student Shaheen Abdulla who was dragged out of a car shed and assaulted by the police on Sunday. Pic/Srikanth Sivadasan
Jamia Millia Islamia student Shaheen Abdulla who was dragged out of a car shed and assaulted by the police on Sunday. Pic/Srikanth Sivadasan

A sky-high temple in Ayodhya within the next four months — is what Home Minister Amit Shah vowed to the public on Monday afternoon, while addressing a rally in Jharkhand's Pakur district. A few states away, a student of New Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University sat alone at a Metro station, replaying in her head images of the horror that unfolded on campus on Sunday night.

On Sunday night, Delhi Police, under the direct jurisdiction of the Home Ministry, laid siege to the Jamia University campus that had protests going on against the Citizen (Amendment) Act 2019 ever since the legislation came into effect. A video of the police pouring liquid out of yellow cans on to a bus went viral over social media, and so did allegations of the protesters burning the bus and turning violent. The police subsequently lathi-charged the protesters — most of them Jamia students and alumni as well as residents of the adjoining Muslim neighborhood of Okhla where the campus is located.

Cops lathi-charged the protesters, mostly Jamia students on Sunday
Cops lathi-charged the protesters, mostly Jamia students on Sunday

Some students retaliated to the lathi charge with stone-pelting, and all hell broke loose thereon. Police barged into the campus, threw tear gas into the library, dragged students out, and beat them up, and made all of them walk out of the campus in a queue with their hands over their heads.

"The incident started spiralling at about 6 pm," a student told mid-day over the phone, while she waited at the Metro station trying to figure out a safe shelter for herself. "The police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) started entering from the campus adjoining the main Jamia campus. I was in the canteen area on the main campus along with a lot of other students. We thought that some of the protesters outside the campus may have entered the compound which is why the police were following them inside. We locked the main campus door from inside, but within no time, it was broken down by the police.

They wanted to kill the protest at Jamia because we have been protesting against CAB since day one
They wanted to kill the protest at Jamia because we have been protesting against CAB since day one

Amidst the commotion, the student's friends advised her to seek refuge in one of the libraries or reading rooms inside. "There were already a lot of students studying inside; they thought the police wouldn't harm them because they were not participants in the protest. But instead, they started throwing tear gas at us. Students ran screaming for help. Instead, the police barged into the library and started dragging out students and beating them up randomly. We went up to the first floor to seek refuge. Some students in their hostel rooms kept their doors locked out of fear," the student narrated.

Once everyone was rounded up, all the students were made to sit on the floor in front of the library. "They instructed us to keep our mobile phones in our pockets, some students were detained and taken away, while others were severely injured after being lathi-charged. They (police) made us walk out of the campus with our hands on our heads, like criminals. There was police escorting us on both sides," the student added.

'Like a concentration camp'
Journalism student Shaheen Abdulla, 24, was among the 41 students detained for protesting against CAA. In a video, the Delhi Police is seen dragging him out from inside a car shed on Sunday, and assaulting him with sticks. Abdulla suffered a fractured nose, shoulder, and multiple bruises and abrasions. Of the girls he was trying to escort to safety, he said, "They are like family to me. I asked them to stay inside and went to show the police my Press ID and was requesting them to allow me to help the girls get medical help."

After the police beat him up, he took his friends to Holy Family Hospital for first-aid but the police arrived there too personnel showed up there too and detained injured students. "I do not believe in the police force after what happened. They made us students walk as if we are in a concentration camp."

'Register dissent on streets'
Another student pursuing his diploma in photography at the university, captured the police brutality inflicted. "We have the right to dissent — nothing can change that. They (Modi government) have an agenda - they are trying to get rid of Muslims from the country. I feel strongly against CAB, NRC, and the violence that took place against us. I want to tell everyone reading this that this fight cannot be won from the safety of our comfort zones anymore. We need to register our dissent on the streets."

Mohammed Faisal, an alumnus of JMI and a resident of the adjoining Okhla neighbourhood, said, "The protesters were lathi-charged. In self-defense, the boys retaliated. But it created a situation which the cops were able to use to enter the campus."

"They call Okhla the 'black zone' just to portray that people from here are miscreants." he said, adding, "We are just expressing dissent, not rioting." They (police) are armed with guns and tear gas and have a high number of troops. Can 20-30 students do badtamaeezi (misbehave) with them?

41
Total no. of JMI students detained

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