Protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act turned violent in Delhi on Sunday evening as protestors, including some students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University, clashed with the police in a South Delhi neighbourhood around 5 pm.
The police baton-charged the demonstrators and fired tear gas to disperse the crowds after they vandalised private vehicles and set three buses on fire.
Students of Jamia Millia Islamia University dissociated themselves from the violence in a statement. “We have time and again maintained that our protests are peaceful and non-violent,” they said. “We stand by this approach and condemn any party involved in the violence.”
Around 7 pm, videos began to emerge from Jamia Millia Islamia University showing the police fire tear gas shells inside the building. Other videos showed the police beating up the students.
Waseem Ahmed Khan, Chief Proctor, Jamia Millia Islamia University, told ANI: “Police have entered the campus by force, no permission was given. Our staff and students are being beaten up and forced to leave the campus.”
Several students were injured and taken to hospitals. Some students were detained at Kalkaji Police station, where they were allegedly not allowed to meet lawyers.
News of the incidents at Jamia led to further protests at Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh, which led to clashes between students and the police. The police was seen using tear gas as well as water cannons to try and disperse the crowd. Footage from NDTV also showed the police vandalising motorbikes outside the campus.
12:30 pm: A lawyer who met the Jamia students detained at Kalkaji Police Statement released a statement summarising their account of the police violence. The students reported that Delhi Police and CRPF personnel had sexually harassed women students. They said CCTV footage from the campus would reveal the severity of the police violence.
12:15 pm: Yogendra Yadav, prominent activist and leader of Swaraj India, said 125 injured people from Jamia had been brought to three hospitals and clinics, and 44 students have been detained at two nearby police stations.
11:47 pm: Speaking to NDTV, DCP-PRO of Delhi Police MS Randhawa claimed that because it was an “extraordinary situation” that tear gas was used even inside the library. Responding to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia claiming that the police and BJP had a hand in setting fire to a bus, with photos and videos as his evidence, Randhawa said: “You must watch the whole video. There was fire outside the bus and police was using water to dose the fire. And in the bus there was no fire at all.”
11:34 pm: Najma Akhtar, the Vice Chancellor of Jamia explained further to ANI how police entered the university campus, even though they were not officially given permission to enter and why such harsh action was taken at the library: “Police couldn’t differentiate between the protesters and students sitting in the library. Many students and staff were injured. There was so much ruckus that Police couldn’t take permission.”
11:30 pm: PTI also reported that a protest against the Citizenship Act amendments in Patna Bihar, led to a police outpost and cars being burnt, with some police personnel hurt.
A protest march also took place in Raipur, Chattisgarh.
11:27 pm: News agency PTI reported that members of the Assamese community protested outside the Indian High Commission in London against the changes to the Citizenship Act.
11:23 pm: Journalist Ritika Jain posted updates about the students from Jamia who were detained at the Kalkaji Police Station, writing “One student with a head injury went into some kind of epileptic shock and the police rushed him to the hospital. Other wise, adequate medical attention is not being given to the students.”
11:13 pm: The Indian government’s information bureau apologised for a tweet that expressed solidarity with the protesters, saying it was “inadvertently” sent out from the official handle. The bureau also said that “suitable action is being taken.”
11:09 pm: Earlier in the evening, news agency PTI cited sources to say 35 students from Jamia had been taken to Delhi’s Holy Family Hospital with injuries, with 11 of them being admitted.
11:05 pm: Metro trains in Delhi are not stopping at a number of stations, particularly those close to Jamia, JNU and Delhi University, as well as the stations closest to the former Delhi Police headquarters where protesters have gathered.
11:01 pm: A video depicting the scenes that were captured on camera earlier in the day, of police raising lathis as women stand in front of them has emerged. The clip depicts the police pulling a man out and the women surrounding him to prevent police from hitting him with their lathis.
10:57 pm: A reporter for the Quint spots a young man being taken away from a police station to, reportedly, Apollo Hospital, with Aam Aadmi Party Member of Legislative Assembly from Delhi, Amantullah Khan accompanying him.
10:46 pm: At ITO in Delhi, in front of the old headquarters of the Delhi Police, a few protesters have now climbed on top of the police barricade carrying pictures of Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar.
10:41 pm: Meanwhile, at Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh, students and the police also clashed not long after news about the events at Jamia was relayed. Visuals depicted students being prevented from making their way to the streets of Aligarh to protest, including this video from NDTV showing uniformed personnel vandalising motorbikes.
10:25 pm: More accounts continue to emerge from inside Jamia on the police violence against students.
“When the police started coming inside the campus, a lot of people were obviously running back inside the campus hostel area,” a student told Scroll.in. “In the passage to the hostel, there were some girls who were being attacked because police was coming towards the hostel area and they were also throwing tear gases in the Begum Hazrat Girls’ hostel.”
She said many students were injured in the police violence while on their way to their hostels. “They came and they are hiding inside our dining hall area,” she said. “A lot of guys have been taken into the hospital by ambulance and all and there are still a lot of guys who are hiding.”
10:20 pm: Delhi police personnel were holding tear gas canisters as they watched over the protests taking place outside the police headquarters.
10:15 pm: Manish Sisodia, minister in Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party government, accused the central government of getting Delhi Police to set buses on fire earlier this evening, Indian Express reported.
10:10 pm: Jamia Millia Islamia Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar told Indian Express that she had no information or report of any student death.
10:05 pm: Firstpost released a video showing police firing outside Gates 1 and 5 of Jamia as students come out of the campus. It is unclear what time the firing took place. At 10 pm, a reporter of Scroll.in outside the Jamia campus reported that the area was quiet for an hour.
10 pm: Protestors shout slogans against the Delhi Police outside it headquarters.
9:45 pm: Delhi Police continued to place barricades on the road outside its headquarters in an attempt to keep out protestors gathering there.
9:30 pm: A video showed the police beating up students inside the Jamia campus, reportedly outside the Zakir Hussain Library. The exact time this happened could not be ascertained.
9:20 pm: A small crowd began to gather outside the police headquarters. The police barricaded the entrance of the headquarters and protestors began to push the barricades.
9 pm: A student told Scroll.in over the phone: “The police started firing tear gas shells inside the reading hall by breaking the window panes of the reading hall. They got inside and started beating the students. I met some students who were beaten very badly and taken to ambulances.”
“The shocking thing is they [the police] did not even spare people who were studying in the reading halls of Jamia. They were not protesting, they were studying there,” he said.
This student was speaking on the phone from inside a hostel where the lights had been switched off by the students themselves. “A few of my friends, 70-80 people, when we saw police coming, we got inside the buildings of Jamia and switched off the lights to protect ourselves,” he said. “The police was uncontrollable.”
8:50 pm: Messages began to circulate saying some students had been detained at the Kalkaji Police station and lawyers were not being given permission to meet them.
Somaya Gupta, a student activist who was outside the Kalkaji Police station, told Scroll.in: “We were here when the students came in. They were brought in a bus. Most of them have been beaten up. These are MPhil, post-grad students picked up from the library. They are injured and bleeding. There are no medical facilities.”
“There are six lawyers here saying they have come to represent them. They have sealed the gate and are not letting them in,” she added.
8:40 pm: Chinmoy Biswal, deputy commissioner of police for South East Delhi, told ANI: “Our only interest is to push the mob back, so law and order can be restored in the area. We have no problem with university students.”
8.30 pm: The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union has called for a protest outside the Delhi Police headquarters at 9 pm. “All students and citizens of Delhi are appealed to assemble at Delhi Police Headquarters, ITO at 9.00 PM tonight to ensure that the undeclared emergency in Jamia is lifted immediately,” a statement by the students union said.
8:25 pm: Scroll.in saw Delhi police detain some people, including students. This was after a brief moment when crowds amassed on the road appeared poised for a face-off with the police. But the crowds dispersed and a confrontation was avoided.
8:20 pm: Indian Express showed images of an ambulance inside the Jamia campus.
8:15 pm: Jamia Millia Islamia Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar told PTI: “Students who were inside library have been taken out and are safe. The police action is condemnable.”
8 pm: A video showed a student lying unconscious on the floor of a washroom, while another student cowered in a corner, his face covered with a blood-stained cloth.
7:30 pm: Waseem Ahmed Khan, Chief Proctor, Jamia Millia Islamia University, told ANI: “Police have entered the campus by force, no permission was given. Our staff and students are being beaten up and forced to leave the campus.”
7:45 pm: Bushra Sheikh, a journalist, told ANI that she was on assignment for the BBC when the police took away my phone and broke it. “A male police personnel pulled my hair.They hit me with a baton and when I asked them for my phone, they hurled abuses at me,” she said.
7:45 pm: A reporter of Scroll.in who was outside the campus could hear continuous sounds of tear gas shelling and loud screams emerging from inside.
7:15 pm: A student told Scroll.in on phone that some girl students were stuck inside hostels and the police had turned off the lights, trapping the students.
“A friend called me from J&K girls hostel and she said someone was asking for a dupatta because a girl had been shot,” the student said. “They were trying to take her to the hospital, but they are trapped, they can’t take her.”
7:10 pm: A student told NDTV she was studying inside the library when the police stormed in. “It is terrifying what they are doing to us. We are not criminals,” she said.
7 pm: Videos emerge from Jamia Millia Islamia University showing the police fire tear gas shells inside the campus building. Many students alleged that the police fired tear gas inside the library.
Videos showed chaotic scenes inside the library, with sounds of things being smashed and students running and crouching under desks. A voice could be heard shouting “nikaliye, nikaliye” [take them out].
5:30 pm: Street violence erupted in the New Friends Colony area. The Delhi Police said they had misjudged the scale of the protest – while they expected 100 to 200 demonstrators, thousands turned up. The protestors also included members of the public, the police added.
The students said they had remained calm even though the Delhi Police baton-charged the protestors and also beat up some women demonstrators. “Media personnel are a witness to these events. Violence by certain elements is an attempt to vilify and discredit genuine protests,” they added.
Some witnesses who were present at the area on Sunday evening also said the students were peaceful till the police used tear gas.
Miran Haider, one of the protesting students, told NDTV that most of the students are still inside the university campus. He added that the demonstrators will follow “constitutional paths” to register their protests.
Jamia Millia Islamia Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar asked students who had left the campus to return. “I appeal to students to keep peace,” she told NDTV. “Everything will be all right but we can’t protect students if they leave the campus. Anybody who goes out will go at their own risk.”
A statement issued by the Jamia Teachers’ Association condemned the violence in south Delhi. “JTA appeals to students, if any, to keep away from such direction-less protest led by local political leaders,” the statement said. “Jamia practices and preaches peace. JTA condemn all sort of violence near Jamia or anywhere in India.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a tweet, appealed to the protestors to abjure violence. “No one shud [should] indulge in violence,” he tweeted. “Any kind of violence is unacceptable. Protests shud [should] remain peaceful.”
Delhi Traffic Police closed vehicular movement from the Okhla Underpass to Sarita Vihar. Parts of the Delhi-Mathura Road, which is opposite the colony, were also blocked. Traffic from Badarpur and Ashram Chowk areas has been diverted.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation tweeted that entry and exit gates of Sukhdev Vihar, Jamia Millia Islamia, Okhla Vihar and Jasola Vihar Shaheen Bagh metro stations have been closed, and trains will not halt at these stations.
All schools around South Delhi’s Jamia, New Friends Colony to be closed tomorrow following today’s violence, reported NDTV.
The clashes came two days after hundreds of Jamia Millia Islamia students took out a protest march from their campus to the Parliament House against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. At least 50 protestors were detained and several were baton-charged by the police on Friday.
The contentious amendments to the bill allow citizenship to persecuted people of six religious communities – but not Muslims – from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. The amendments were approved by both Houses of Parliament this week and were signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday night.