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Anti-Citizenship Act protests: violence hits Delhi, over 50 injured

A man runs past a burning bus that was set on fire by demonstrators in New Delhi on December 15, 2019 during a protest against the amended citizenship law.

A man runs past a burning bus that was set on fire by demonstrators in New Delhi on December 15, 2019 during a protest against the amended citizenship law.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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Police resort to teargas, lathicharge to block protesters near Jamia Millia Islamia; buses set on fire.

Violence erupted in the area surrounding Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi on December 15 afternoon as protesters opposing the amended Citizenship Act clashed with police. Scores were injured as the police resorted to lathi-charge and firing of teargas shells.

At least 51 people, who were injured in the police action near Jamia, have been admitted to the nearby Holy Family Hospital.

Meanwhile, hundreds of students, teachers and civil society members turned up at the Delhi Police Headquarters at ITO around 10 p.m. in protest against the police brutality towards Jamia students. The protesters demanded immediate withdrawal of the police from the Jamia area and an independent inquiry into the high-handedness of the police during the crackdown.

A mob set fire to public buses and damaged parked vehicles. Students, however, dissociated themselves from the violence.

Thousands of protesters from the area surrounding the university attempted to march towards Jantar Mantar but were stopped by police barricades put up near The Surya Hotel located about a kilometre from the university’s gates. The protesters took a detour through the parallel Mata Mandir Road but were once again stopped by police. Following an altercation, police lathi charged the gathering crowd and shot multiple rounds of tear gas shells. Running from the police, some protesters threw stones at parked vehicles and public buses on Mata Mandir road. Two buses there were set on fire and two more buses were damaged elsewhere in the area.

Delhi Police personnel inside the Jamia Milia University campus on December 15, 2019. An empty tear gas shell is seen in the foreground.

Delhi Police personnel inside the Jamia Milia University campus on December 15, 2019. An empty tear gas shell is seen in the foreground.   | Photo Credit: Saurabh Trivedi

 

Students of Jamia in a statement said: “We have time and again maintained that our protests are peaceful and non-violent. We have maintained calm even when students have been lathi-charged and some women protesters have been badly beaten up.”

Some protesters, escaping police action, ran towards the university, where students were sitting on a separate demonstration and entered the campus. Police also entered the university campus allegedly chasing these protesters. Lathi charge took place inside the university campus as well, students said. Videos shared by students also show damage to various buildings inside the campus, including the university’s reading room and mosque where police are said to have entered.

Buses were set on fire by protesters in New Delhi on December 15, 2019.

Buses were set on fire by protesters in New Delhi on December 15, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Sidharth Ravi

 

Chinmoy Biswal, DCP (South East) said that around 3 p.m. a mob vandalised vehicles and committed arson on Mathura Road. Police chased the mob and some of them fled towards JMI campus and resorted to stone pelting. Police followed them to remove them from the campus. The university is not a closed campus as it is located on both sides of the road.

The DCP said no shots were fired and asked people not to believe rumors about firing. He added that six policemen were injured in the action and that more than 200 tear gas shells were used.

JNUSU members protest outside the Delhi Police headquarters on December 15, 2019 in solidarity with Jamia Milia Islamia students.

JNUSU members protest outside the Delhi Police headquarters on December 15, 2019 in solidarity with Jamia Milia Islamia students.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

 

By evening, the area was cordoned of by the police as multiple rounds of tear gas shells were fired near the university’s gate as well. Protesters undertook stone pelting from inside the campus, police claimed. Those inside the campus were later escorted out with their hands above their heads as police attempted to control the situation. Several protesters were severely injured in the clashes.

JMI administration in a statement said that the violence in the vicinity of the university happened during the protest organised by the people of the nearby areas and not by JMI students. “The university has already declared winter vacation and postponed semester examination. A large number of students staying in hostels have already left and the Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar has appealed to the students to maintain peace,” the statement read.

The Jamia Teachers' Association condemned the violence and appealed to students to keep away from “direction-less protest lead by local political leaders”. Chief Minister Arvind Kerjiwal appealed for calm and said “No one should indulge in violence. Any kind of violence is unacceptable. Protests should remain peaceful.”

Demonstrators react in New Delhi on December 15, 2019 during a protest against the amended citizenship law.

Demonstrators react in New Delhi on December 15, 2019 during a protest against the amended citizenship law.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

This is the second such incident in less than a week at Jamia university after the passing of the Citizenship Act. On December 13, students had given a call to march from the varsity to Jantar Mantar but were stopped at the university gate and clashed with police. On Sunday's march however no call had been given by an student organisation.

PTI adds:

Schools in southeast Delhi to remain closed on December 16

All schools in southeast Delhi area will be closed on December 16 in view of the situation, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced.

“In Delhi’s south east district areas including Jamia, Okhla, New Friend's Colony and Madanpur Khadar, all government and private schools will remain closed tomorrow. Delhi government has taken the decision in view of the current situation,” Mr. Sisodia tweeted in Hindi.

Watch | All about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Hundreds of students reached the old Delhi Police headquarters at ITO late Sunday night to take part in an “emergency” protest against the police action at Jamia Millia University following violence during a demonstration against the amended Citizenship Act.

The protesters raised anti-police slogans and demanded action against officials who entered the university.

Students from Jamia, Ambedkar University and others joined the protest called by the JNU Students’ Union.

Protesters blocked all roads leading to the police headquarters. Barricades were put up as the mass of protesters swelled.

CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat also reached the spot and condemned the police action.

A protesting Jawaharlal Nehru University student said, “We have come here to support the protesting students who have been attacked by the police. We want the police to leave the campus as soon as possible”.

Nearly 60 people, including students, policemen and firemen were injured as violence erupted during a protest by Jamia students against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

“My batchmate Utkarsh Roshan has been detained by Delhi Police for no reason. We have no idea where he is. We have been calling him since evening but not getting any response from his side. Several students have been stuck inside library and reading room. They are scared and hiding inside,” said Bhumika Saraswati, M.A. Convergent student at Jamia Millia Islamia.

She claimed that after entering the varsity campus, Delhi Police detained students who were not even involved in the violence.

Another student said that the protestors have been mobilised through a message to come out in support of the students of Jamia, who have alleged high-handedness against the police.

“More than 70 students have been admitted to Holy Family hospital. Police locked our washroom and several students, who are injured inside the campus and are scared of coming out of the premises. I have come here to protest against CAA, NRC and what has happened in Jamia,” said Srijan Chawla, M.A. Mass Communication student at Jamia.

Brinda Karat alleged that the entry of police in the university had the blessings of Home Minister Amit Shah.

“Where is the police commissioner? Where is Amit Shah, obviously he has given permission to the police to enter the campus,” she alleged.

Earlier in the day, protestors torched several vehicles near Jamia University and clashed with police. Later, police entered the varsity campus to control the situation and said they detained some of the people who allegedly indulged in violence.

But Jamia University administration said its students were not involved in the violence.

Commuters faced a harrowing time as traffic was thrown out of gear for several hours in the areas gripped by tension after the clash and Delhi Metro shut 13 stations.

Soon after the violence, Jamia Millia Islamia Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmed Khan claimed that Delhi Police entered the campus forcibly without any permission and beat up staff members and students who were forced to leave the campus.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 9:59:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/police-enter-jamia-millia-islamia-campus-in-delhi-as-anti-citizenship-act-protest-turns-violent/article30312133.ece

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