Security forces committed ‘unbridled rights violations’ in AMU: fact-finding team

A view of the Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh. File

A view of the Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh. File   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The team comprised lawyers, human rights workers, journalists and academics

A fact-finding team comprising lawyers, human rights workers, journalists and academics on Tuesday released a report on the “unbridled human rights violations” committed by security personnel on the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) campus on December 15.

Testimonies of several faculty members, students and others revealed that “the university administration, district authorities and the State government, not only failed in their duty to protect the campus and its residents against brutality by the Uttar Pradesh police, but also that they in fact invited the police forces and their weapons into the campus”.

Former IAS official and human rights activist Harsh Mander, Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, senior journalist John Dayal and film-maker Natash Badhwar were among those who interacted with about 100 members of the faculty, students, doctors and several members of the university administration on December 17.

“We did not see blood spots and broken vehicles, but tear gas shells were visible at various places. All signs of the violence had been expertly removed...,” said the report, which also recognised the contributions of Syed Mohammad Zaheer and Varna Balakrishnan, research fellows with Karwan-e-Mohabbat.

The team members said that in just two days, about 21,000 resident students were evicted from the university premises. They met some of the injured students, including a doctoral scholar whose palm was blown off in an explosion and had to be amputated. Mr. Mander said stun grenades were used by the forces, as told by the Registrar, who is a serving IPS officer.

Mr. Mander said although it was hard to reach a formal conclusion on how the violence started on the campus, nothing could justify the scale and nature of police and RAF action.

“Stun grenades are used only in war situations, or militarised police action such as against dangerous terrorists, never to quell student protests,” said the team. Based on testimonies of students, teachers, video footage, medical opinion and remarks of administration, besides physical evidence, they said tear gas shells, sound bombs, rubber bullets and lathis were also used on students.

The team found that religious slurs were used against the students. “According to one student, 'it looked as though the police had a deep-seated hatred towards us, which they wanted to vent by treating us in the most barbaric manner',” said the report.

Condemning the “militarisation” of response to students' protest, Mr. Dayal said the forces had “gone beyond lathi charge, water cannon and tear gas shells”.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 7:40:19 AM |

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