New Delhi: About 50 Jamia Millia Islamia students were picked up by the Delhi Police Sunday evening, and allegedly made to sit in the cold without food, water or medical attention for hours. They were released in the early hours of Monday.
Family members and friends of the students spent the night running from the police station in Kalkaji to the one in New Friends Colony, and also to the hospitals in the vicinity to locate their loved ones.
“I had no idea where my brother was, the police were not saying anything. I first went to Holy Family hospital because students were rumoured to be there, then I went to AIIMS, then I went to Friends Colony before going to Kalkaji and finding my brother’s name in the list prepared by some advocates,” said Mohammed Zaidi, whose brother is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at Jamia.
Students at Jamia were protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, before things turned violent Sunday. Three buses and two motorcycles were torched in the area.
A bulk of the students were picked up after the police allegedly burst into the university’s library and indiscriminately lathi-charged them.
The police have denied firing at the unarmed students, and said it was targeting violent protestors from outside who got “mixed” with the crowd. All the students ThePrint spoke to, however, said the library was peaceful until the police came in.
Kalkaji police station
About 30 students were taken to the Kalkaji police station, where their phones were allegedly confiscated. Though the students have now been released, their phones have not yet been returned.
“While we were walking out, the police were very abusive and openly said we were being walked in a file so that we could be used as a shield for them in case anyone pelted stones,” said a third year B.A. Honours student, who did not wish to be identified. “It was terrifying. We were all scared.”
“We were made to sit outside in the cold, on the floor, for many hours before we were moved inside the station. Then we weren’t given food until around midnight, only after Amanatullah Khan (the local AAP MLA) came. They treated us well after that,” said the student.
Khan, the MLA from Okhla, visited the police station at 10.30 pm. ThePrint tried to reach him for a comment, but he was unavailable until the time this report was published.
No medical attention till after midnight
At Kalkaji, a government doctor was permitted to meet the detainees at approximately 1.20 am.
“These boys have been detained for over five hours, and some of them have reported feeling dizzy and nauseous — this should be enough to send them to the hospital for a check-up immediately. I have advised the police to do so, because otherwise it will reflect poorly on them, too,” the doctor, who did not wish to be identified, told ThePrint.
However, the students were only released around 3 am, after which they were shifted to Apollo Hospital for treatment.
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New Friends Colony
Meanwhile, at the New Friends Colony police station, M.A. student Mohammed Mustafa said: “They kept telling us the ambulance would come since around 7 pm, which is when we were lodged in the station. I used my arms to shield my head when I was being beaten, and both my arms were fractured as a result. The ambulance didn’t come till after 1 am.”
The students at this police station were shifted to the AIIMS Trauma Centre at 1 am for medical examination, before being brought back to the station and released around 6 am.
A second year student of computer science told ThePrint he felt “tortured” in police custody. He said the police threatened to pour cold water on the students if they asked for food or to be treated for their injuries. This student was left with a fracture in the thumb and the little finger on his right hand.
At New Friends Colony, detainees were given one samosa to eat and a glass of water to drink. “We didn’t even want to ask for anything more after the way they beat us in the campus. We were too scared,” said another student detained there.
A senior officer at the Delhi Police headquarters refuted the students’ allegations as “baseless”.
“The students were detained and were asked to furnish their details. After verification, they were let off. Not even a single person was manhandled or treated badly while under detention at the police station,” the officer said.
(With Ananya Bhardwaj)