A fact-finding report on the violence and police action at the Aligarh Muslim University last week has alleged that police used stun grenades, “usually used in war-like situations or terror operations”, against AMU students. Based on anonymous testimonies of students, teachers and others present on campus at the time of the incident, the report concluded that there were “unbridled human rights violations” and the university administration failed in their “duty to protect the campus and its residents against brutality by Uttar Pradesh Police”.
Denying the report’s claims, police have said that students initiated the violence and minimum force was used for self-defence. When contacted by The Indian Express, Aligarh (City) SP Abhishek said, “Police personnel might have used stun grenades… In terms of how many stun grenades were used… it can only be concluded after a probe. We have clippings of students throwing back tear gas shells. The stun grenades are non-lethal and only produce sound impact which can be used to disperse crowd.”
Former IAS officer Harsh Mander, academic Nandini Sundar, rights activist John Dayal and author Natasha Badhwar were part of the 13-member team that issued the report, titled ‘The Siege of Aligarh Muslim University’, at a press conference here on Tuesday.
The report stated that a student, who picked up a stun grenade thinking it was a tear gas shell, lost his hand even as the university administration defended use of the device. “He (registrar) justified the police action as both necessary and restrained and even spoke casually of the forces using stun grenades. These are devices to temporarily blind and deafen the enemy, known sometimes to cause injury and burst into flames. It is likely that this caused the student to lose his hand… and also possibly the fire in hostel rooms,” the report says.
“Students spoke of soldiers and police persons raising chilling slogans like Jai Shri Ram while attacking the students and setting ablaze their scooters and vehicles…” the report states. It mentions alleged use of religiously charged terms such as “aatankvadi” (terrorist) by the police.
The report says that the “Vice-Chancellor claims to have invited the forces into the university, but it is unclear why the RAF soldiers then broke down the gates”.
The incident took place on December 15, when a group of students gathered at Bab-e-Syed gate to protest against the police action in Jamia Millia Islamia.
Denying the claims of the report, Aligarh SSP Akash Kulhary said, “There are fact-finding reports here and there and their validity should also be checked. We cannot give response to everyone… a criminal writ application has been filed at High Court and we have submitted our affidavit along with evidence…. This entire fiasco was initiated by the students of AMU. For self-defence, minimum use of force which is legal right of the police has been used.”
“It is factually wrong that stun grenades are used in war-like situations as they are used to disperse crowds. In war-like situation the Army uses grenades,” he said.
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