Jamia students’ demand for access to CCTV footage given the cold shoulder

The incriminating CCTV footage from the Jamia Milia campus are being handed over to the ministry and are unlikely to be used against Delhi Police

Protesting students of Jamia Millia Islamia
Protesting students of Jamia Millia Islamia

Ashlin Mathew

CCTV footage, seen by some university officials at Jamia Milia, support the students’ version that police action in the campus on Sunday evening was brutal, unprovoked and disproportionate.

Sections of students also want access to the footage so that they can file cases and demand for compensation. But chances are, said a university official, that the footage would be handed over to the HRD ministry.

While many of the CCTV cameras in the library and elsewhere in the campus were destroyed or damaged, allegedly by the police, the recorded footage is likely to reproduce scenes before the cameras were destroyed.

Why would students, at the receiving end of police brutality, destroy the cameras, wondered an official. Where was the time? They were busy hiding, looking for safety or they were in the hostels and in the library. How would it have helped them if the cameras were damaged, he asked.

The Proctor, Waseem Ahmed Khan, told NH, “Whatever we have is being copied onto CDs by the Mass Communication department. We have gone through them partially and there is evidence of police brutality. There are some images of unprovoked tear gas shelling, the police brutality within the library and outside it. We have not seen all of it though.”

The PRO Ahmad Azeem was non-committal though. “We are yet to look at it. Once we do, we will know what is there and what isn’t,” he quipped. He added that the Registrar would have more information on the footage. But the Registrar AP Siddiqui could not be contacted.

The Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar had declared on Monday that the university would file a FIR on damage of property and police action on students, but no FIR has been registered till Wednesday.

University officials, however, said clearly that the footage would not be released to the media. The footage could be a part of the report being prepared for submission to the Home Ministry.

The Jamia Teacher’s Association has been supporting the students, but that hasn’t translated into any concrete action, complain students. “They met us on Monday after the assault and today they have demanded a high-level inquiry and they condemned the barbarism by Delhi Police. But when are they going to help us file cases,” asked an M.Phil student.

“We are collecting Medico-Legal Certificates of all those students who were detained by the police. Additionally, we are locating evidence and we are hoping they will let us access the CCTV footage too. Then we will file FIRs,” added a student from the Mass Communication department.

Three days after the dark Sunday, protests were still going on at the main gate of the university on Wednesday, when Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, actor Zeeshan Ayub and several others joined protesting students.

There is simmering resentment against the Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar for allegedly not standing up for the students.

“I was among those who were arrested and taken to the police station. My phone still hasn’t been returned to me. I am still figuring out how to get it back. I do not want to go there alone. It’s not that I am afraid, but sometimes there is strength in numbers. I should be able to go to the Vice-Chancellor and seek assistance, but where is she?” asks an irate student.

The police registered an FIR on Tuesday, but until Wednesday students have not filed any FIR against the brutal attack.

“The University should provide us with assistance. They keep claiming that we are safe here and that is why our identity cards are checked before we enter. Now if they can’t even ensure our safety within the campus, what is the Vice-Chancellor doing? When will she meet us,” exclaims an M.Phil student in exasperation?

None of them wanted to be named though.

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