45 students sexually assaulted by police in Jamia violence on February 10, states report by women’s body

The students and teachers of Jamia have underscored the use of chemical gas on peaceful protestors and targeted sexual violence on women in the report

Policemen stand guard near Jamia Millia Islamia following the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act, in New Delhi, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019 (PTI Photo)
Policemen stand guard near Jamia Millia Islamia following the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act, in New Delhi, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019 (PTI Photo)
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Ashlin Mathew

At least 45 Jamia Millia Islamia University students were sexually assaulted by policemen in the attack on the University on February 10, stated a fact-finding report by the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW). The students and residents were brutally attacked by the police, even as they were protesting peacefully against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register (CAA, NRC and NPR).

The report states that about 15 women and 30 men were assaulted in their private parts. “Women were molested by male policemen, who attempted to tear their clothes, punched their breasts or stomped on them with their boots, as well as tried to insert their batons into their vaginas. At least 15 women were stomped on in their private parts, and they suffered injuries in their vaginas,” stated the report.

The pain, pus and blood rendered them bedridden for weeks after the assault. Women as young as 16 and as old as 60 were sexually assaulted. A woman who had previously been operated for a caesarean delivery kept pleading for the beatings to stop, but the assault continued till the cop was pulled back.

The sexual assault on men was equally severe. The attack on their groins and rectum resulted in severe injuries.

The report states that they could not access the MLCs, hence they have relied on the information given to them by the survivors of the assault.

The testimonies of students and teachers of the University have highlighted the role of both the police as well as those in plain or fake uniforms in the targeted attack. The students and teachers of Jamia have underscored the use of chemical gas on peaceful protestors and targeted sexual violence on women in the report.

“As was seen in previous campus attacks in JNU and Jamia itself, there were police personnel without name plates and badges. Also, some of the attackers wore jeans, non-police helmets and vests over their civilian clothes. The vehemence and sense of vindictiveness of the attackers was extra-ordinary,” said Aruna Roy, NFIW President.

Eyewitnesses told NFIW that at about 6:30 pm on Feb 10, a misty substance was sprayed into the air. While no one complained of tears or irritation to the eyes, the protestors experienced immediate immobility, drowsiness and severe headaches. They also experienced choking and muscle pain. Most were unable to stand for hours after being sprayed on.

“During our investigations we also discovered that the complaints of choking, vomiting and limited mobility continued for over a week after the attack. Patients were checking in with symptoms of palpitations, muscle atrophy and spasms at different medical centres and hospitals in the vicinity,” said Annie Raja, NFIW General Secretary.

The attack varied according to gender. Men were hit on their knees and when they fell on the ground, they were sprayed on with a mild liquid that rendered them immobile. They were also attacked on their genitals. Many were unable to speak, and the choking and headaches also rendered them unconscious.

The attack on women was different. They were sprayed on first, and as they collapsed, they were beaten, stated the report. The attacks were made using blunt objects, so there were no sharp injuries.

When teachers, activists and students asked about the police about this toxic gas, the police declined to give any clear answer. The police categorically denied using any chemical gas or torture techniques on the students. They claimed it to be mosquito fumigation spray that had drifted to the barricades from Holy Family Hospital, stated the report. However, the hospital authorities informed the students and teachers that no such fumigation activity was carried out by the hospital.

In the report, NFIW stressed that no FIR was filed regarding the injuries suffered by the unarmed protestors. NFIW has demanded that the Home Ministry put out a white paper on the events of February 10 and the government institute a special judicial enquiry to investigate the heinous nature of the crimes perpetrated by the men in uniform. The women’s body has demanded compensation for those injured in the attack.

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