New Delhi: A day after protests called by students of Jamia Millia Islamia against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) turned violent, with police lobbying tear gas shells to disperse them, a large number of pupils were seen leaving their hostels Monday.
Many of the students, especially women, said their families were concerned about their safety and have asked them to come home.
“The police chased everyone and threw tear gas shells at us. The male policemen even entered the girls’ hostels and thrashed us,” a student, Daraksha Naaz, told ThePrint.
Another student, Saima Sayeed, also alleged that she was beaten up by the police when she tried to help an injured friend.
Faizal Dilshad, a resident of B.R. Ambedkar hostel in Jamia Millia Islamia, said, “I’m the only one left on my floor as most of the students have left the hostels.”
While the situation remained tense Monday, the police presence in the area was considerably reduced. There were only 24 police personnel stationed at the Sukhdev Vihar and Jamia Millia Islamia metro stations.
A large number of residents in nearby areas such as Batla House and Okhla, however, continued to protest peacefully. Shahin Kausar, a resident of Jamia Nagar, said, “We are here to express solidarity with the students who were brutally assaulted by the police. Nothing but a complete rollback of CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) is acceptable to us.”
‘Will continue protests’
Memories of the alleged police brutality is still raw for many of students, some of whom said they were forced to take refuge inside the library, their hostel rooms and even at a mosque nearby.
Abdul Razak, a student pursuing his M.A. in Geography from the varsity, said, “We were studying in the library when the lights were suddenly turned off and its windows broken by police forces who threw tear gas shells inside the building.”
Many claimed their colleagues were shot in the leg by the forces. “The policemen broke both legs of my friend Shamim, who had run inside a girl’s hostel, after being chased by the forces,” said Sayeed.
“First, they beat him with lathis and then asked him to run. They then dragged him to a distance and beat him up again.”
But the students also said they will not stop protesting against the CAA. “We are protesting together with the local people and no amount of brutal assault can deter us,” said Samir Alam, another student.
Leaders condemn police action
Many civil society members arrived at the Jamia campus Monday to express solidarity with the protesters. Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav and Delhi University Professor J. Apoorvanand were also present at the protest that was being held at Gates No. 7 and 8 of university campus.
BJP leader Vijay Goel was, however, chased away by a group of agitators from the site of protest.
“Police work is to maintain rule of law and not to punish someone. It seems that the police force has the mandate of ruling people of the country and they must suppress the voice of dissent rather than to protect it,” professor Apoorvanand told ThePrint.
“NRC and CAB is a package to perform dog whistle politics which implies that Muslims don’t have the same right as others and they are meant to be humiliated and be a second class citizen,” he added.
The Jamia Millia administration also held a press conference Monday afternoon during which Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar said students are allowed to protest only within the campus gates.