Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor on Tuesday regretted the police action on the campus on December 15, and sought to assure students of their safety and the right to protest peacefully, PTI reported.

The police entered the campus to quell protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and police violence at Jamia Millia Islamia University. The university then closed down for the winter break, and the hostels were emptied as students were asked to leave.

“I want to tell you and your families that I regret what happened [on December 15],” the vice chancellor wrote in an open letter. Mansoor claimed the decision to summon the police was taken in “good faith and a clear conscience” as it had become important to disperse protestors, who had become unruly on hearing the rumour that two student demonstrators at Jamia Millia in New Delhi had been killed.

The vice chancellor appealed to students “to consider with an open mind” the circumstances that forced him to take the “unpleasant decision” of inviting the police to enter the campus.

Mansoor said he would “fully share” the students’ concerns about any subject, provided it was done “in a peaceful and democratic manner”. The vice chancellor sought to assure the students he had “no intention whatsoever” of attempting “to subvert the right of students to protest peacefully against any legislation” they find objectionable.

“You are the future of our democracy and all citizens, especially the young, enjoy the right to share their views in the true spirit of a democratic society,” the vice-chancellor added. Mansoor said the students would not have to worry about their “safety and well being when the university reopens” after the winter break, and sought their support in completing the academic year.

A fact-finding report on the violence at Aligarh Muslim University found that law-enforcement officials fired stun grenades, “usually used in war-like situations or terror operations”, at students and raised “chilling slogans like Jai Shri Ram while attacking the students and setting ablaze their scooters and vehicles...”. The report said the university administration “not only failed in their duty to protect the campus and its residents against brutality by the Uttar Pradesh Police, but also that they in fact invited the police forces and their weapons into the campus”.

“He [the university registrar] justified the police action as both necessary and restrained and even spoke casually of the forces using stun grenades,” the report added. “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.”

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