On December 14 (Sunday), huge protests by the Jamia Millia Islamia University students against the new citizenship law ended in violence. News reports claimed that the same day, personnel of Delhi police barged into the University campus and pulled students out from the hostels and library. They were said to have beaten up and abused students, including many women. Later on, when Aligarh Muslim University students tried to march against the violence in Delhi, they were lathi-charged and tear-gassed. The protests soon spread across the country.
In several cities, including Kolkata and Banaras, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Mumbai students held midnight protests. Constant support for the students of Jamia, AMU and other universities standing in solidarity is coming in from people around the world. A group of students and scholars from the Oxford University on December 17 held a protest march at the varsity premises in the UK and condemned police’s act of violence against the students at the Jamia Millia University in Delhi and the Aligarh Muslim University. Talking about the Citizenship Amendment Act the Oxford students said that the “unconstitutional law upends the long-standing fundamental ideals of equality”.
After Delhi police’s crackdown in Jamia University, students and educational institutions across the nation have come out in support of the students of Jamia. They are carrying out angry protests to criticize CAA along with the government’s efforts to control the frenzy and cases of destroying public property. Many students from Delhi University held a protest outside the Arts Faculty in North Campus to communicate that they stand together with the fellow students of Jamia and AMU. Similar protests and processions are being staged at Lucknow’s Nadwa College, where slogans like “Awaz do, hum ek hain” (call us we are all united) were heard while police tried to keep the situation under control.
Students from the Mumbai University and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) took to the streets shouting slogans like “Shame on Delhi Police“. Similar protests were conducted by students of Hyderabad’s Maulana Azad Urdu University, BHU at Varanasi, Central University of Kerala, Kasargod University, Pondicherry University, Jadavpur University in Kolkata, Patiala’s Punjab University, Patna University and Chennai’s Loyola College. Reports of stone-pelting by students and damage to the public property also came in.
While addressing the media on December 16 (Monday), a day after the crackdown in Jamia, Delhi Police’s Public Relations Officer MS Randhawa said an investigation was underway on the Jamia violence. He advised that people should not pay any attention to the rumors doing the rounds on social media. Delhi Police categorically denied firing during the police action at the university on Sunday evening. Randhawa further said that the “police used maximum restraint, minimum force, despite being ‘provoked’ by protesters and did not carry any firearms.” He added, “There was no firing; there have been no casualties in the Jamia violence. The crime branch will investigate the violence.
A thorough investigation will be done and accountability will be fixed.” Divulging the details of the violence he said, “Four DTC buses, 100 private vehicles and 10 police bikes were damaged during the violence. One policeman is in the ICU.”
Close to 50 Jamia students who were detained by the police were released early on Monday but tension sustained in the campus, even after that. Outside one of the gates in Jamia, a group of Jamia students stood shirtless in the chilling cold weather of a December morning in Delhi to show their resentment against the action taken on their collegemates on Sunday. Hundreds more collected on the streets in an orderly manner with some students forming a human chain to manage traffic. Several students were seen leaving the Jamia University premises with packed bags in their hands and tears in their eyes. The university has reportedly advised students to leave the campus in view of the police action and tension surrounding it. Two male students who were seemingly part of a demonstration by Jamia Millia Islamia students on Sunday were admitted to the Safdarjung Hospital with “gunshot injury”. Delhi Police has, however, denied firing on the protesters during the clash, saying the injuries could be due to the sharp end of tear gas shells. The father of one of the students, Sohaib Khan aged 23, said his son was not part of the protest but was passing by when he was hit by a “pellet” on the toe.
In Delhi, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sat on a dharna at India Gate on Monday evening and slammed the Home Ministry’s action against student protesters as “brutal”. She said, “An attack on students is an attack on the soul of India” and Sonia Gandhi issued a statement later accusing the BJP of creating instability in the country. Several celebrities from India and abroad have come out in support of Jamia and AMU students. They have publicly condemned the violence that took place against students by the police.
Amit Shah also urged students to go through the newly enacted law and to not fall in the trap of political parties. Through a series of tweets, PM Narendra Modi has also tried to reassure the students and the citizens of the country that the citizenship law is not against Indian Muslims but the protests and outrage against it have only grown louder. With student protests’ increasing and spreading across the nation like wildfire, what remains to be seen is how which course the government is going to take with respect to the CAB and NRC.