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Year after Jamia violence, university’s plea for action against police personnel in limbo

An enquiry was initiated after several videos emerged purportedly showing police assaulting people inside the Jamia library and breaking a CCTV camera and furniture. Police maintain they entered the varsity in pursuit of rioters.

Written by Mahender Singh Manral , Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Updated: December 15, 2020 7:21:24 am
Year after Jamia violence, university’s plea for action against police personnel in limboSeven persons, including former Congress MLA of Okhla Asif Khan, have been named by Delhi Police in their FIRs. Police also chargesheeted JNU PhD student Sharjeel Imam and Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha.

In the past one year, the enquiry to probe the role of its own personnel in connection with the December 15 violence at Jamia Millia Islamia has been transferred by the Delhi Police Crime Branch to the Cyber Cell, but no personnel have been identified in connection with the assault on students.

An enquiry was initiated after several videos emerged purportedly showing police assaulting people inside the Jamia library and breaking a CCTV camera and furniture. Police maintain they entered the varsity in pursuit of rioters.

Sources said a Crime Branch special investigation team had asked SHOs of police stations in South East district for duty rosters of that day. “The SIT later recommended to the police chief an enquiry… to probe the conduct of police personnel. Later, the Additional CP (Cyber Cell) was asked to conduct the enquiry, and investigations are still on,” said a police source.

The December 15, 2019 protests had spiralled into violence after a section of protesters, including students and local residents, tried to march to Parliament against the Citizenship Amendment Act but were stopped by police at Mathura Road. As a section of protesters started pelting stones and set buses and private vehicles on fire, police retaliated with lathi-charge and eventually stormed the campus.

Seven persons, including former Congress MLA of Okhla Asif Khan, have been named by Delhi Police in their FIRs. Police also chargesheeted JNU PhD student Sharjeel Imam and Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha.

Jamia had meanwhile filed a police complaint against the “brutal action” of “unruly policemen” and the matter is now in court. The university had also submitted a bill of Rs 2.66 crore to the MHRD for damage to property in its library seeking compensation, and demanded that a high level committee or a judicial committee be set up to probe the matter. There has been no movement on both matters.

“We had written to them, we even pursued it further but we cannot force anyone. When our police complaint was not turned into an FIR, we went to the court. It has been one year, the court has not given its decision,” Jamia Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar told The Indian Express.

The library was opened in March with 800 seating capacity, 150 computers and new LED lights. “It took around two months for the renovation to be complete,” said librarian Tariq Ashraf.

 

At the time of the violence, Akhtar had publicly come out strongly against the police entry and in support of her students. Asked what she expected in this one year in terms of justice for her students, Akhtar said she would prefer to “focus on the positives” and let the “negatives” slide, since it was not under her control.

“In this one year, we got rank 10 in the NIRF university rankings, making it the first Muslim minority university to do so. In a survey by MHRD, we got the top rank among central universities…Even despite what happened, our students sat for exams. We are very proud of this,” she said.

But for students injured in the attack, moving on has not been as easy. Minhajuddin (27), who lost his left eye in the violence, said: “I was working at a private law firm in Delhi, but long hours in front of the laptop started causing strain. Three months ago, I left.” He now works at a civil court in his hometown Samastipur

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