Eyewitness accounts from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) suggest that a large posse of policemen, led by the DIG, was waiting outside the main gate of the university on Sunday evening even before the students came out to protest against police brutality in Jamia.
A group of AMU students assembled inside the campus near the main gate and began shouting slogans. Soon thereafter a few stones were hurled at the policemen outside. And as if on cue, the men in uniform rushed in, firing rubber bullets and caning students.
Aligarh SSP Akash Kulhari had last week told the students opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill (now Act) that they were free to protest peacefully and ‘democratically’ inside the campus. Why then did the Rapid Action force and policemen rush inside? Students claimed that stones were hurled at the police by agents provocateurs and demanded that an independent inquiry be conducted.
The role of the police at AMU has also come under a cloud because of the accounts given by several doctors, who were prevented from reaching the hospital in the campus. Said Dr Azimuddin Malik, “ My car sported the Red Cross symbol, I had a stethoscope around my neck and a white doctor’s gown but I was stopped at the main gate; and police refused to allow me entry though I pleaded that I was responding to an emergency call.”
Dr Malik and his fiancée, also a doctor, were forced to take a long detour through Jamalpur to reach the AMU hospital. He saw several police vehicles take the same route to get inside the campus.
Around 60 AMU students had sustained serious injuries, doctors confirmed. Some had head injuries and were bleeding profusely. Others had their limbs broken. The Students’ Union President Salman Imtiaz had been hit by rubber bullets and was gasping for breath.
Doctors told this correspondent that students had been assaulted mercilessly. “Not even animals are assaulted like this,” said a doctor on condition of anonymity.
One of the injured students, Nadeem, claimed he was in the library when he heard a commotion outside. When he came out of the library, he saw policemen chasing a group of students. “Whoever they found on the way, the policemen pounced on them. I too was not spared though I was not among the protestors,” he added.
Another doctor told NH, “As a doctor, I can say with authority that the policemen did not act with any restraint. They were clearly unconcerned where they were hitting and what could be the consequences.”
Police entered the hostels too at AMU and dragged the students studying in their rooms out. They were particularly severe with senior students staying in hostels in the Macdonald area. Clearly the policemen had been given directions, the eyewitness accounts held, and had done their homework.
Demand for an inquiry was growing in Aligarh with students and faculty members pointing out that the police did not spare AMU security guards, the Vice Chancellor’s driver and even the elderly.