Jamia Millia Islamia Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar Monday demanded a high-level enquiry against police entry into campus and the crackdown on students a day earlier. She said the university would also file an FIR against “unidentified police personnel” for the “violence and vandalism”.
On Sunday evening, police had thrown teargas shells inside campus, barged into the premises and dragged students out of the library before assaulting them. The action followed a day of protests where some protesters — Jamia has maintained these were outsiders and not students — set buses and vehicles on fire in some parts of South Delhi.
Addressing a press conference at Jamia Monday, Akhtar said the burning of buses and other vandalism outside the campus as part of protests was “unfortunate”, but refused to comment further on it.
“When they chased people from there, people entered our campus. The police entered the campus, chasing after them. All of us (officials) were sitting in a meeting, we were waiting in case the police needs some help. The registrar (an IPS officer himself) was in contact with senior police officers… But police came inside the campus without taking permission. This is not the rule — that they can enter without asking the registrar, proctor or me,” said Akhtar.
“Our library was open; students were working… They hit them with lathis and broke property. They must have damaged property to scare students, but the brutality with which they were made to feel scared is not acceptable. Jamia does not tolerate police entry without seeking permission,” she added.
Akhtar said Jamia held an emergency Executive Council meeting Monday in which it was decided that an FIR would be filed and the demand for a high-level enquiry would be made.
“We will demand that there should be a high-level enquiry into the matter. We will request the HRD Minister to look into police entry into campus and the damage done to property as well as the psyche of students. There have been atrocities against students who were sitting and studying innocently, that’s not acceptable. So we need to determine who was responsible for this,” she said.
“We will also file an FIR against police entry and action,” said Akhtar.
She said there had been “massive damage to university property”.
“It’s not acceptable that things are broken inside our buildings. Who will pay for this loss? There has also been emotional loss, a loss of confidence and our students’ psyche has been affected. Who will be responsible for that? Property aap bana sakte hain, but bachche jis situation se guzre hain usse aap dobara nahi theek kar sakte,” said Akhtar.
“We are not forcing any student to leave hostels, but we are facilitating it, because here we could not protect them in the library,” she said, adding that nearly 200 students had been injured in Sunday’s incident; most of them in the library. However, she confirmed that there had been no deaths.
“We are also demanding that a bypass road be created for public, and the road in front of the campus be given to Jamia to make the campus secure for us,” she said.
“Jamia should not be targeted. It’s a peaceful university, which is born out of the national movement. Students from all parts of the country come to study here. It should not be maligned. The protests are happening everywhere, but only Jamia’s name is being highlighted,” said Akhtar.
Registrar A P Siddiqui said Sunday was a “war-like situation”.
“We questioned the Joint Commissioner of Police about firing and they denied it. There was no stone-pelting on cops from inside the campus by students. If some outsider has done so, we have no means to verify it,” he said.
“Any university administration is geared to deal with students, not with a mob. No university can control a mob. That’s the job of the police,” he added.
Akhtar could not meet the higher education secretary Monday as the roads outside the university were blocked in the afternoon. According to university sources, she will brief the ministry officials during the Visitor conference of all central universities on Tuesday at Rastrapati Bhawan.
Till Monday night, the ministry had not decided whether, as per Akhtar’s request, an inquiry should be instituted to look into what transpired on campus Sunday evening.
“We will wait for the university’s report on the matter and also after hearing the V-C in person,” said a ministry official who did not wish to be identified.
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