“Don’t come to the campus. Police has surrounded the university and is firing tear gas shells in the library and reading hall. We are hiding in the library and don’t know what will happen to us. Just return back”. These were words of my classmate who was stuck in Library of Jamia Millia Islamia when I called him on the evening of 15th December, the day when Police unleashed terror, ransacked my university and thrashed common students. This was an unprecedented brutal crackdown on my university where students were held captives, made to plead for their lives. My friend has already left for his hometown!
Students of Jamia Millia Islamia have been protesting since past few days against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act and All India NRC. On December 13th, Students had given a call for Parliament March in opposition of the same. Students were stopped just outside the campus and were restrained from moving further. Dozens and Dozens of Tear gas shells were fired on students inside the campus and in the Lathicharge by Delhi Police many students got grievous injuries. The next day, on Dec 14th, students called for complete University Lockdown and boycotted their exams. The Jamia Teachers Association came in support of students and condemned Police violence unequivocally. Student community of Jamia united resolved to oppose CAA tooth and nail, to save the soul and spirit of India. The University declared winter breaks till January 5th and Semester Exams were cancelled.
On December 15th, students once again took to the streets, residents of neighbouring localities too joined the protest in huge numbers against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act. In a democracy citizens have the right to protest, to express their dissent and India is the world’s largest democracy. Students of Jamia were exercising their fundamental right and were not involved in creating law and order problems in any way. By late afternoon there were instances of vandalism of public property, few DTC Buses were torched by anti-social elements. Some viral photos/videos are doing rounds claiming that the police was involved in burning the vehicles. Between 5:30-6 pm in the evening, the police entered the campus, surrounded the whole university premise and students were chased in libraries, reading halls, canteens, washrooms and beaten up. Tear gas shells were fired inside libraries where students were studying. The police went berserk and destroyed the university property unapologetically. Students were brought out of the university with their hands raised as if they were some kind of criminals. Around 50 students were illegally detained and released early morning next day only after pressure from civil society and senior lawyers of Supreme Court. While all this happened at the university, the Vice Chancellor said that she held no one responsible for it.
The students are scared, are leaving for their hometowns. Students of Jamia are traumatized but not discouraged. Jamia was born out of the anti-colonial freedom Movement. It has the legacy of fighting and taking up a stand against oppressive might of British colonial state. It didn’t bow down to oppression then, it won’t bow down to oppression now. As Jamia is set for centenary year celebrations next year, at this historical juncture it has the task to own up to its historical legacy and stand with spirit of secularism, democracy and an inclusive idea of India. Jamia shall rise like phoenix, from the ashes!
Satya Prakash is pursing his Masters in History at Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi
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