Police, protesters clash during march against CAA

Stand-off lasts nearly seven hours as citizens refuse to budge despite repeated appeals to disperse by police, Jamia Millia Islamia authorities

Hundreds of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) students and residents of nearby areas were on Monday stopped by the police from taking out a march to Parliament against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), leading to a seven-hour stand off during which scuffles broke out between protesters and security personnel.

The protesters began their march, called by the Jamia Coordination Committee, at noon from the university’s Gate No. 7, which has seen anti-CAA demonstrations since the last two months. The Delhi Police has maintained that the organisers had not been granted permission to carry out the rally.

When the protesters were stopped near Holy Family Hospital, they started climbing over the police barricades. The were, however, swiftly dragged down by the security personnel.

During the seven-hour standoff, protesters kept shouting slogans as security personnel in riot gear tried to contain the situation.

Some protesters held up banners reading: “Where is Komal?”. A reference to the January 5 incident that took place at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where a masked mob attacked students and faculty members. One of the suspects is named Komal.

The protesters stood their ground despite repeated appeals from authorities, including the JMI Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmad Khan. “The message has been sent. Your protest has been registered. I appeal to the students in the crowd to go back to the university. Respect the law and go back,” Mr. Khan said.

Delhi Police officials, perched on barricades themselves, also appealed to the protesters to return to Gate No. 7, which has been the epicentre of anti-CAA protests in the area.

Towards late afternoon, the situation turned confrontational as security personnel tried to push the protesters back, while resorting to crowd-control measures. During the scuffle, many protesters fell unconscious.

Khurshid, a middle-aged protester who was one of the people that had to be dragged out of the crowd, said: “The police tried to hit me on my legs with lathis. We will continue protesting as we will not show our documents even if we have them. We are not ready to go anywhere.”

Shivangi Bhasin, another protester, said: “I was on my way to Shaheen Bagh but came here after receiving an SOS message. It is really surprising that the police are asking protesters to be peaceful while they are the ones being brutal. It is important for us to be present here in solidarity.”

Devesh Srivastava, Joint CP (Southern Range), said: “Total nine students, including two girls, were detained and released after an hour. It all ended peacefully.”

He added that the police has not used any force on protesters and were “only pushed back” by security forces and prevented from climbing on barricades.

As the crowd started swelling near Sukhdev Vihar metro station, the DMRC closed the entry and exit gates to the station.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:44:19 PM |

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