Police launched unprovoked & brutal attack on students and staff in Jamia: PUDR report

Facts gathered reveal significant cause for higher judiciary to take suo moto action against the Delhi police for brutalities, says the report

Police personnel outside Jamia Millia Islamia as students stage a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (PTI Photo)
Police personnel outside Jamia Millia Islamia as students stage a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (PTI Photo)
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NH Web Desk

A fact-finding team of People's Union on Democratic Rights (PUDR) on the violence in Jamia Millia Islamia said its report has found that there were two attacks by the police on the protesters in the university campus, with the first one on December 13. The second incident happened on Sunday, December 15.

The report said, "that ahead of December 15 the police stopped the protesters on 13th and lathi-charged and tear-gassed them while they were trying to march towards Parliament."

It said the Delhi Police barged into the campus and used brute force against the students. The police on December 15 also used brute force strategically and in a planned manner and this was like a force against the enemy, not against the protesters.

The report said that students were protesting since December 12. The fact finding team met the student eyewitnesses and other individuals.

It said that the use of police force was unwarranted as the police say that this was to only stop stone pelting, but the use of force and firing of 400 teargas shells and people being beaten on the head and abdomen shows otherwise.

Here are the major finding and conclusions of the report:

The crackdown on students on 13 December 2019 by the Delhi police forms the backdrop to the incidents of 15 December 2019

The decision by the Delhi Police to disallow students from conducting a march to Parliament on 13 December was immediately followed by the use of brute force in the form of an excessive and indiscriminate lathi charge. Far from being limited to pushing students behind the police barricade, it was aimed at causing injury to the protestors. The police force caused wanton damage to vehicles parked nearby, and reportedly detained around 50 students.

Far from dissuading students from protesting against the CAA, this action ensured larger presence of students and of other residents from the neighbourhood of the University in subsequent protests. The massing of police forces closer to the campus set the stage for a more violent attack.

The Delhi police used excessive force against students and protesters outside and inside the university campus on 15 December 2019

The police action from its start near the Mathura Road was ruthless. We found no evidence of any attempt to make announcements asking the protesters to halt or to retreat. Use of lathi-charge and tear gas was unrelenting and cruel, continuing well after the crowds had already started to disperse. Protesters who were retreating were attacked and those who were injured were subject to further assault. The use of firearms with live rounds by the police is without authorisation and without the necessary safeguards. More serious is the attempt by senior police functionaries to deny and to obfuscate this serious transgression.

Delhi police and paramilitary forces launched unprovoked and brutal attacks on students and staff in the library, mosque, and other parts of the university campus

The entry of the police into the campus is without authorisation and even without informing the University authorities, failures that cannot be justified by statements that the police was chasing protesters. In this fashion the police has precluded the necessary presence of a University official to accompany the police party.

The destruction of CCTV cameras by the police force at the gate, inside the campus, and at the library and reading rooms is clear evidence of the intention of the police force to indulge in actions that are prohibited and amount to criminal offences.

The attacks on guards, students, the imam and other employees inside the campus was indiscriminate. Everyone that the police could lay their hands on was subject to severe beating with the police lathi, amid a barrage of communal abuses against Muslims and Kashmiris. Widespread use of tear gas affected everyone in the campus.

The entry into the library, reading room and masjid; and the attack on the students there; marks a deliberate choice of targeting persons unconnected with the protest demonstration and those attempting to protect themselves from a savage police attack.

The extent of cruelty shown by the police is wholly unacceptable. People were attacked with lathis specifically on the head, face and on the anterior side of the legs. The force used was sufficient to cause deep gashes and bone fractures, and the nature of injuries make clear that they were intended to cause maximal damage. Thus, incapacitated students were further maltreated by leading to additional injuries. This onslaught appears to have been orchestrated to only terrorize the university and neighbouring areas.

Illegal detentions and deliberate denial of medical help

The detentions were completely arbitrary. Many of the people injured in the police action were brought to the police stations. At least one account suggests that students were detained only on account of questioning the police. The detained were also prevented access to family members and lawyers for a long time. When some people were permitted to visit those detained, all writing material and phones were taken away lest the detained sign a vakalatnama or photographs of their injuries get recorded while in police custody.

Many of the detainees were seriously and gravely injured but as a rule, those detained were denied medical aid. Hospital could be accessed only when the detained were released or else when they were taken for the MLC to a hospital. There are also instances of more deliberate action to block medical help to the injured. These include reports of injured receiving treatment being removed from hospital, ambulances being prevented from reaching the injured and those seeking medical help being intimidated.

Destruction of property

The day witnessed widespread damage and destruction of property, especially in the university library.

The incidents of arson on public buses need to be investigated as reliable accounts are not forthcoming and contradictory evidence and statements abound.

Some persons from the protest rally are responsible for damage to private vehicles parked in the NFC area and arson on one motorcycle, while other protesters tried to restrain them from doing so to ensure peace and calm.

The police is responsible for damage to parked vehicles of students and other residents in and around the Jamia campus on 13 and 15 December.

The police parties that entered the campus are also responsible for the destruction of CCTV cameras, window panes and other library property of the University as well as cell phones belonging to a number of students.

Facts gathered reveal significant cause for higher judiciary to take suo moto action against the Delhi police for brutalities

The scale and brutality of the attack by the police, the unauthorised entry into the University campus, the destruction and damage, as well as the disregard for norms and procedures is reason enough for the higher judiciary to take suo moto notice of the happenings and to issue appropriate directions to ensure medical relief and to enquire into the conduct of the police forces. Both the Supreme Court and the High Court had the opportunity to do so, since the matter was brought before them, but both refused to intervene immediately. The Supreme Court stated that it is not a court of first instance for determination of facts, and the Delhi High Court adjourned the matter until February.

Aggravating Factors

The residents of the area surrounding the Jamia campus have a high degree of distrust of the police. The police have, on its part, provided reason on past occasions to earn this distrust. The spiteful verbal abuse noted in this report is a reflection of the same. This historical situation has certainly contributed to the barbarity by the police and to the stone pelting by the residents. The conduct of the police on 15 December can only reinforce the mistrust.

The lack of a student’s union at Jamia implies that there is no official body that takes responsibility of, plans, controls and directs protest demonstrations. It also means that there is no student representative in communication with the police. This lacuna could easily hamper any attempt to prevent matters getting out of hand.

PUDR DEMANDS

1. That the right of citizens to protest must be recognized as inalienable and the practice of routine refusal to grant permission must be stopped.

2. That an FIR should be registered against the police for brutal use of force inside the campus in Jamia Millia Islamia.

3. That a Commission of Enquiry be instituted to examine the unauthorised, unjustified and excessive use of force and wanton acts of destruction by the Delhi Police.

4. That the police personnel to be posted at police stations in the Jamia area need to be sensitized to counter a communal outlook and to ensure civil behavior as becoming of a public servant. The police personnel and officers who were part of the attack on students need to be shunted out of the police station without delay.

With IANS inputs

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