A court in Delhi on Wednesday said that the police had used “more force than necessary” in some instances while handling protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in 2019, The Indian Express reported.
However, the court said the alleged excesses committed by the police in trying to control the situation were related to their duties and dismissed the university’s petition seeking investigation into the same.
“Though it could be argued that while so acting, the police/respondents had allegedly exceeded their jurisdiction and used more force than necessary in some instances, it cannot be said, by any stretch of imagination, that the said acts were wholly unconnected to their official duty,” Metropolitan Magistrate Rajat Goyal said in an order.
The magistrate added that the police could have shown some restraint and handled the situation in a better way. “However, the lack of such restraint exhibited by the police and excesses committed in trying to control the situation are very much related to official duties of the respondents,” he added.
Goyal said it was clear that some protests against the citizenship law had become violent and the police took action to ensure that the law and order situation did not deteriorate more, Bar and Bench reported.
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In February 2020, the Delhi Police had set up a special investigation team to conduct inquiries into videos that reportedly showed its personnel assaulting students on campus.
One of the videos, tweeted by the Jamia Coordination Committee, showed the police entering a reading hall at the university on December 15, 2019, and indiscriminately hitting students with sticks. After the incident, the police repeatedly denied entering the library.
Another video, also believed to be from the same evening, purportedly showed students hiding in a room. The students were reportedly taking cover after police personnel threw tear gas and stormed the campus, according to the Jamia Coordination Committee.
A third clip, released by a company called Maktoob Media, was an extended version of the second video. It showed students barricading themselves in a room. The police were seen breaking the room open and thrashing them.
India saw massive protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in 2019. The Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. It has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.