At least 42 students were detained and over 25 injured Friday after Delhi Police fired tear gas shells and resorted to lathi charge during a protest against the new citizenship law at Jamia Millia Islamia.
However, students alleged police had “used excessive force during a peaceful march”.
“Forty-two students were detained, of which 10 are from DU. The protesters were asked not to hold the protest as they didn’t have permission. They pelted stones and police had to resort to mild lathi charge,” DCP (South East) Chinmoy Biswal said.
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Police claimed a dozen personnel received injuries. The nearby Holy Family Hospital confirmed that 30 people — three policemen and 27 students — were brought in for treatment, and 25 had been discharged by the evening. One of the students was referred to AIIMS for plastic surgery on his injured hand.
While a protest gathering had been called by the Jamia Teachers’ Association at 2 pm, a march, by the university students, was to begin at 3 pm. The plan was to walk from Jamia’s gate 7 to Parliament, roughly 11 km away.
Around 3 pm, when police asked protesters to back down, some tried to push through barricades near Jamia’s gate 1. The situation spiralled out of control when roughly 100 locals, who were on the police side of the barricades, rushed and pulled the metal structures down. By this time, the number of protesters had crossed 1,000.
By 3.30 pm, police had resorted to firing teargas shells, while protesters were retaliating with stones. Some protesters also tried slinging teargas shells back at the police, along with broken pavement stones. University sources maintained locals, and not students, had indulged in stone pelting.
At 4.15 pm, as a round of teargas made protesters rush for cover inside premises near gate 3, police personnel chased them down with lathis. At least three men who had their backs against the wall were repeatedly hit as they pleaded with personnel to stop. A video of the incident was captured by The Indian Express.
The injured were helped to their feet by others, and taken away from the protest site on motorcycles.
An engineering student from Jamia, who did not wish to be identified, alleged: “They used force first; ours was a peaceful protest. People are badly injured; teargas has been thrown inside classrooms.” Police said around 25 teargas shells were fired in the course of the day.
Students from the engineering faculty were taking an examination between 2 pm and 5 pm, which was held as per schedule. But faculty members later claimed teargas had entered the campus, making it difficult for students to write their papers.
Some residents, who were not part of the protests, found themselves stuck in the area. Saiyed Ahmed Ullah, 67, a resident of Noida, had come to a health clinic near Jamia but could not leave because of the violence. Ali Raza, 47, a former Jamia student, said, “The force police used is wrong, but so is the stone pelting.”
The situation remained tense till Friday evening, with protesters refusing to disperse and police resorting to another round of lathi charge. At 7.15 pm, a group of policemen dressed in riot gear and holding lathis started proceeding from gate number 1 of the university to Sarai Jullena, where students had blocked the street. At 7:20 pm, just outside Holy Family Hospital, policemen wearing motorcycle helmets began a fresh round of lathi charge to move protesters away from the street. Some protesters fell on the pavement, but did not escape the blows. As the crowd dispersed, the road was littered with slippers and broken spectacles.