December 19, 2019 3:15:40 am
“They were beating people with lathis on the head, like they’re going to kill them.” — Hisham (20), a student of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), recalled the day of protest at the university campus Sunday evening, when police lathicharged and dropped tear gas shells on students protesting the new citizenship law and police action against Jamia Millia Islamia students.
“That night I couldn’t go to my hostel because they were beating anyone they found on the campus. I stayed with a friend at his house,” said Hisham, a student of BA Islamic studies at the university.
Hisham was among a group of over 80 students from AMU and Jamia Millia Islamia who were provided shelter at the Kerala House in the capital. They left for home Wednesday.
The agitation at AMU began around 8pm Sunday, eyewitnesses said, after reports of police clampdown on students inside Jamia campus started pouring in Sunday. Jaseemul Farhan (22), an MA political science student at the AMU, was inside a library when he heard that students had gathered behind the Bab-e-Syed gate at the university and were raising slogans.
He claimed that after protesters tried to open the gate, police began firing teargas inside the university. The police, meanwhile, have alleged that students pelted stones at them, following which tear gas shells were fired and the protesters lathicharged.
At the AMU Women’s College hostel, Reema Ismail (19), a BA English student, called her parents in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, just before authorities shut down the internet around 9 pm. “I told them that they might cut off the internet at any time, but I’ll be in the hostel. At that time the issue wasn’t that big,” she said.
As the night progressed, Ismail could hear shouts, teargas being fired, and police and protesters moving around the campus. “We were scared. We had heard news about Jamia, that how they forcefully entered the library… we were scared they would get inside the hostel. We heard they did this in the boys hostel and even to students who did not go to the protest,” she said.
The following morning, students said they were asked by university administration to vacate hostels by the end of the day. “They said police will be raiding every room. and we won’t be responsible for anything,” a student from geology department said.
Students said they arrived in Delhi on Monday evening in buses arranged by the university administration. Farhan said, “We were scared to travel in the bus… even travel agents were not willing to take us anywhere.”
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