An FIR will be filed against police violence on students of Jamia Millia Islamia through the magistrate before January 16, Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar assured protesting students Monday evening.
A signed assurance was given by the V-C to students after a day-long protest outside her office, during which students held two discussions with her and even called for her resignation if their demands were not met.
Police had stormed the library and mosque inside Jamia campus on December 15, attacking students with lathis and even firing teargas to control ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and a proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Delhi Police had not registered an FIR as of Monday on the university’s complaint to the local police station a day after the incident. A copy of this complaint was also sent to the police commissioner, along with request letters to joint CP (southern range) and DCP, crime.
A charter of demands given to the V-C Monday, which she signed in the evening, said, “The notice initiating the FIR and the court’s reply must be released to the students. The V-C must ensure safety and security of every student and release a statement assuring parents as well as students that the campus is safe for them to return.”
The V-C had initially told students that the FIR would have been registered sooner if the victims had come forward and lodged a complaint.
To this, one of the students said, “It is your boundary that has been breached, your property that has been vandalised, your students beaten. It is you who are the victim here.”
A senior police officer said, “We have not registered an FIR yet. The complaints filed by the V-C have been forwarded to the crime branch which will probe the matter.”
Arsalan Tarique, a visually impaired Jamia student, recalled how he was allegedly attacked by the police inside the university library on December 15: “I told them I am blind, but even then they hit me with lathis saying ‘we will take out all your blindness today’.” Arham Umar said he does not feel safe in the campus ever since he witnessed the police crackdown.
The two open discussions protesting students held with Akhtar Monday were initially question and answer exchanges, but later turned into a demand and response format.
After the V-C refused to give written assurances to the demands, closed door discussions were held while protesters outside chanted: “Gandhi tera mission adhoora, hum sab milke karenge poora.”
Among the other demands made by the students include setting up a special investigation team comprising retired judges and bureaucrats to conduct an “impartial and fair enquiry” against the Delhi Police’s “vandalism and brutality” on campus, to which the V-C agreed.
The National Human Rights Commission has begun an inquiry into police action at Jamia, but students said they doubt it will be “impartial”.
Akhtar also agreed that the ongoing examinations at the university, which began on January 9, will be cancelled and rescheduled and those who boycotted them will be allowed to appear again. The new exam schedule would be compact, rather than scattered across a month as the present one, students demanded.
The university administration also agreed to provide legal support to three Jamia students against whom an FIR has been filed by police. A member of the Jamia Coordination Committee said they would hold a protest outside the V-C’s office again on January 16 if an FIR against police is not registered.