India: Footage appears to show police attack on Jamia students
The incident at the university came after days of clashes between the police and protesters who were demonstrating against a controversial new citizenship law [File: Sajjad Hussain/AFP]
New video footage has emerged that appears to show police in India attacking students of Jamia Millia Islamia university (JMI) in New Delhi on December 15.
The CCTV footage was shared on social media on Sunday by the Jamia Coordination Committee, a group of students and alumni.
The video appears to show several policemen in riot gear entering the university’s library and beating students with batons.
The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified. Al Jazeera has contacted the Delhi Police for comment but received no response at the time of publication.
“They (police) did not care about anything. They ransacked everything that came in their way and ruthlessly beat students,” Ashraf, a JMI student, who was in the library when police stormed in, told Al Jazeera.
“Some students took refuge inside washrooms but they were also not spared. I was myself beaten and had to be hospitalised.
“Inside (the library) they broke everything, beat students without any care and regard for standard operating procedure. They beat students on their heads and mostly upper part of the body,” the student said.
The incident at the university came after days of clashes between the police and protesters, who were demonstrating against a controversial new citizenship law near JMI in December. Scores of demonstrators were injured in those clashes, as police used tear gas and batons to disperse protesters.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by the Indian Parliament on December 11, 2019, grants citizenship to minorities – except Muslims – from neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who arrived in India before 2015.
Critics and activists have said it violates India’s secular constitution and have challenged it in the Supreme Court.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says the new law will save religious minorities such as Hindus and Christians from persecution by offering them a path to Indian citizenship.
Widely shared video
The footage posted online on Sunday has been shared extensively on social media. On Twitter in India, a hashtag “Shame on Delhi Police” was among the top trends of the day, as social media users denounced police brutality and called for a response from the government.
“This footage basically confirms what we already knew that Delhi Police entered the JMI university and attacked the students who were studying [inside the library] peacefully,” Delhi-based activist, Kavita Krishnan told Al Jazeera.
“This is a criminal act, resulting in serious injuries to the students including blinding one of the students.”
Local media reported that the police said the video was being investigated.
Last month, a gunman opened fire at a protest rally near the JMI, injuring one student. The demonstrators accused police of not trying to stop the 17-year-old gunman before he fired shots.
The deputy commissioner of police in Southeast Delhi said the teenage suspect had been arrested and an investigation was being conducted into the incident.
Separately, at least 26 students and teachers were injured when masked assailants broke into New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) hostels and attacked students and teachers with iron rods, sticks and sledgehammers, and vandalised property.
Police made no immediate arrests, but blamed the violence on “rival student groups”. They later filed a case against unidentified people on charges of rioting and damaging property.
The violence prompted the opposition Congress party to criticise Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party on Twitter for “[failing] at its duty to maintain peace in the nation”.
CCTV footage exposed Delhi police once again. Police entered into Reading Hall(Commonly known as ‘ Zakir Hussain Hall) on 15th December & they brutally lathi charged on the students who are studying there. #JAMIA#ShameonDelhiPolice pic.twitter.com/sViVgOZxp1
— Neeraj Kundan (@Neerajkundan) February 16, 2020
Modi, however, has blamed the Congress party for inciting violence against the citizenship law.
The United Nations and rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed concern over the enactment of the CAA.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has termed the law “fundamentally discriminatory in nature”.
The government of India, however, has responded several times that the CAA is an internal matter.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies