22-year-old Nasir Chaman was in his house at 5.30 pm on 15 December when his phone echoed with messages of violent protest in Delhi’s Jamia Milia Islamia. Policemen used tear gases and sticks on the students, ”said Chaman, a second-year law student at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
Shortly after that, AMU students started giving calls to take out a protest march on campus in support of Jamia, but Chaman joined them only after receiving a request from a fellow student at 7.30 pm. We have come to know that two Jamia students were killed in police firing.
Over the next few hours, messages continued to arrive – including videos and photographs of police against students in Delhi.
Four days later – the protests led to violence, for which the students and the Aligarh Police blamed each other – Chaman was in a bed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital (JNMC) in Aligarh, His right hand was injured trying to sink a tear into a bucket of water to diffuse the gas shell. His thumb may have to be amputated.
In the bed next to him, was a 26-year-old chemistry research scholar, whose right hand is carved on the wrist. He said he got caught in the scuffle.
The injured students were repeatedly visited by the AMU Vice-Chancellor and Registrar, who came to check on them. He came here three times today. Every time, we both closed our eyes and pretended to be unconscious, ”said Chaman. The chancellor and registrar are our patrons, but they closed their eyes when it mattered.
Who permitted to enter?
AMU officials confirmed that after protests erupted on Sunday, they allowed police to enter the university’s campus.
We could have let the situation deteriorate, or forces go in. We chose the best possible option for the safety of our students, “University Registrar Abdul Hamid, an IPS officer who is on deputation. This was followed by a five-hour-long clash between students and police – a confrontation that led to stone-pelting and alleged firing by agitators, and the use of a lathi-charge and water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets.
The police, who were also looking for the protesters, reached the campus hostels and guest houses.
According to several accounts, between 95 and 125 students, some residents, police officers, and teachers were injured. The students alleged that they were hunted and beaten with a vengeance. He also accused the police of vandalism and torture after detaining them.
Internet and all Text and call services are suspended in the entire Aligarh district after this clash. The university was closed prematurely for winter vacation, and the students asked to pack their bags and leave at short notice.
The charge of attempted murder, among others, was pressed against the protesters, and 26 people were arrested. Only seven of them belong to AMU.
As an uneasy tension at the university following the violence, AMU officials are left with angry and frustrated students trying to bridge the lack of trust. Meanwhile, the police are taking pains to prove that their action was proportionate and appropriate.
Protests at the AMU over the Student Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, first began on 11 December. On 13 December, around 1,500 students protested the law that citizenship is fast-tracked to “persecuted minorities” from three Muslim-majority countries in India’s neighborhood.
The movement coincided with the first stir in Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi. Everyone behaved responsibly that day, “Aligarh’s Superintendent of Police (City), Abhishek, who goes by one name.
Minor protests in the complex were also staged on 14 December. According to all accounts, there were no protests until 15 December. After this, around 5.30 pm, reports of violence began to appear in Jamia.
I received calls about the police firing in Jamia. The students there begged to be sent to the media, asking us to come to Delhi to support them. The outgoing president of Aligarh Muslim University Students Association (AMUSU) said Salman Imtiaz. New student elections are yet to be done in diversity.
I went to the AMU library canteen and called a general assembly meeting to condemn police action in Jamia. Students led a protest march from the library to Varsity’s main gate. Initially, the protest march involved only a few dozen inside the campus. A small police force was stationed outside the main entrance. The large iron gate separated the two sides. “The students were being led by Imtiaz. He submitted a memorandum, and things looked fine, ”said SP, Abhishek.