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13 Jamia students detained by police ahead of planned BBC documentary screening

VC says the screening was organized by the left-leaning Students Federation of India to “disturb peace” on campus; students say they were detained for shouting slogans after the screening was prevented

January 25, 2023 07:11 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 01:47 am IST - New Delhi

Police personnel detain an SFI activist at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi on January 25, 2023. during a protest against the detention of four activists over the proposed screening of a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Police personnel detain an SFI activist at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi on January 25, 2023. during a protest against the detention of four activists over the proposed screening of a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. | Photo Credit: PTI

A day after chaos erupted in Jawaharlal Nehru University over students watching a controversial BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 13 students at Jamia Milla Islamia University were detained by police ahead of a screening of the documentary that was scheduled to be held on their campus on Wednesday evening.

Police said that no screening had taken place in Jamia. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southeast) Esha Pandey said that 13 students were detained around 4 p.m. to ensure peace in the area, adding that the university administration had informed the police that students were found to be creating a ruckus in the area. Heavy police deployment was witnessed in the area ahead of Republic Day.

The JMI administration had warned that disciplinary action would be taken if the documentary was screened without permission. “It has come to the knowledge of the University Administration that some students belonging to a political organization - SFI [or the Students Federation of India], have circulated a poster about the screening of a controversial documentary film on the university campus today,” it said in a statement. “[The] administration has earlier issued a memorandum and circular and once again, reiterates that no meeting or gathering of students or screening of any film shall be allowed without the permission of the competent authority, failing which, strict disciplinary action shall be taken against the organisers.”

‘Vested interest’

The statement further said that all possible measures were taken to prevent people and organizations from having a vested interest in destroying the peaceful academic atmosphere of the University.

According to the students, the screening was slated to begin at 6 p.m. near the A.J.K. Mass Communication Research Centre’s lawns. However, entry to the lawns was denied by the administration. The students had proposed to stage a protest at 4 p.m., for which permission was denied by the Delhi police. Some students raised slogans, and were then detained by the police.

JMI Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar told the Press Trust of India, “SFI wants to disturb peace on campus; will never allow this behaviour.”

JNUSU, ABVP file police complaints

On Tuesday, chaos and violence erupted in parts of JNU, where students had gathered to watch the documentary on their mobile phones due to a power outage on campus. Several students were injured after unidentified persons pelted stones at them. Although two Police Control Room (PCR) vans were stationed outside the campus, police had said that no complaint was received.

On Wednesday, a senior police officer said that they had received two complaints at the Vasant Kunj North police station, one from the Left-linked JNU Students Union which had planned the screening and the other from the RSS-linked Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, both in connection with the incidents at JNU. The two parties both alleged that their members had been attacked.

“We’ve received the complaints and are probing the matter. Several videos have come forward on social media, which will also be looked into, and persons will be identified,” the officer said. No FIR has been registered yet.

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