Students, civil society stand against police brutality at Jamia

Daneesh Majid

New Delhi: The Delhi Police’s brutality against the Jamia Millia Islamia students who were protesting peacefully against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has sent shockwaves across India.  It has also galvanized activists from various civil societies into action against the perpetrators of violence against JMI’s population.

Various independent and fact-checking media houses (BBCNDTVThe WireScroll, and AltNews) and social media were rife with videos of students being subjected to brutal physical assault. Footage of Delhi police setting buses ablaze were indicative of an attempt to paint the students as the miscreants and thereby discredit the demonstrations. Despite such footage being removed by Facebook, concerned citizens continue to share it.  

Besides the video and of image female Jamia students resisting the physical attacks of officers with lathis, NDTV’s powerful interview of a tearful law student has also gone viral. “I’m not a Muslim but from day one I’ve been at the front line of the protests.” Jharkand-native Anugya added, “Our parents pay for our education so we could stand with those who are being wronged. I don’t even know if many of my friends are still alive after what happened yesterday or if they will cease to be declared as Indians tomorrow.”

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When asked where she was during this flare up, she traumatically responded that she was lucky enough to be alive.  Responding to a query of a friend about his safety via Facebook post, Asif (name changed) said “Almost safe.”

He states, “A bunch of friends and I took refuge in Batla House as the brutality continued.”

A concerned citizen’s open offering to distressed Jamia students

Upon seeing Asif’s comment on that post’s thread, a fellow Delhi resident wrote “If anyone studying in Jamia needs help or a place to stay tonight, please Facebook inbox me.”

Besides concerned citizens, members of the legal fraternity also came forward to help. A Delhi based lawyer named Aradhna (name changed) circulated a list of lawyers who volunteered their services to help detainees.  She sent this list to people within her legal circles and other well-connected acquaintances individually via WhatsAPP.

Aradhna (name changed) claims, “I’m connected with a lot of rabble-rousers on Facebook and Twitter who would derail the initiative upon discovering it. Hence, I was sending these lists discreetly via WhatsApp.”

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Messages of lawyers tapping into their legal networks to assist detainees

On the civil society front, activist SQ Masood and his colleague Mariya Salim wrote a letter to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson with some demands. They asked the Delhi-based body to suspend the guilty police officers, order state governments to provide free medical care to the affected students and appoint a team of retired judges to monitor the situation on the Jamia Campus for a whole week.

In solidarity with JMI, Aligarh Muslim University protested only to experience similar treatment by the Delhi police’s Aligarh counterparts. However, in response Indian youth have been hitting the streets to voice their opposition to the government high-handedness.

Be it IIT Mumbai, Jammu University, Hyderabad’s Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Pondicherry University etc. there is a surge in discontent across the country’s institutions of higher learning over the police atrocities and the silence of the Central and State governments.

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