Police enter Jamia Millia campus, march students out

Roads near university littered with glass, gutted vehicles

Published - December 16, 2019 01:39 am IST - New Delhi

Those inside the campus were made to surrender and march out with their hands in the air.

Those inside the campus were made to surrender and march out with their hands in the air.

Jamia Millia Islamia and the areas surrounding it turned into a battlefield on Sunday as clashes erupted between thousands of protesters opposing the Citizenship Act and the Delhi Police.

The posh New Friends Colony was littered with tear gas shells, shattered glass from vehicles and the gutted remains of buses. What began as a peaceful demonstration culminated in lines of students being marched out of the university’s campus, late in the evening, with their hands up in the air.

“Everything was peaceful, the protesters were at a distance... all of a sudden they started charging towards us and throwing stones,” said Gulazar, a DTC bus driver whose vehicle was set on fire. With alternative routes blocked by protesters, he had taken a detour through the Mata Mandir Road where the incident occurred.

Thousands of protesters opposing the Act had gathered at the head of the road and were facing off with the police. At 4.30 p.m., as the crowds swelled, loud bangs of tear gas shells punctured the air and white smoke and chaos soon enveloped the area. Facing a lathi-charge by the police, protesters scurried in the opposite direction, some running towards the university.

The retreating protesters hurled stones at parked vehicles in the area. Though some tried to pacify the crowd, others goaded them on to set buses ablaze. A nearby two-wheeler was first set on fire and then placed below the bus to set it alight.

As thick black smoke from the burning buses floated over the neighbourhood, some protesters escaped to Jamia Millia Islamia campus where a separate demonstration by students was under way.

Students of the university disassociated themselves from the violence, stressing that their movement had always been peaceful. Chasing after the protesters, the police entered the campus and allegedly launched a lathi-charge here as well, shifting the site of the battle.

For several hours, the area outside the university witnessed heavy stone pelting between protesters and the police, with loud bangs of tear gas shells being heard till 7.30 p.m. Inside the campus, scared students spoke about police entering the university’s reading room and mosque. Some shared videos showing damaged window panes. The students also claimed that several injured protesters had taken shelter in a hostel.

With the area cordoned off, normalcy was enforced by the police by evening.

Those inside the campus were made to surrender and march out with their hands in the air. While no arrests were reported, several protesters were detained. The situation in the area remains tense.

This is the second such clash between protesters and the police in the area in under a week. On December 13, JMI students attempting to march to Parliament street were stopped at the university gates resulting in a clash. Police action and the violence on Sunday drew widespread condemnation from multiple quarters, with spontaneous demonstration at the police headquarters at ITO late on Sunday.

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