Indian students start protests against ‘anti-Muslim’ citizenship law. In New Delhi on Sunday, more than 100 demonstrators protesting a new Indian citizenship law were wounded when they clashed with police who used tear gas and baton charges to disperse protesters at a major university.
Hundreds protested against a new law that will give citizenship to non-Muslims fleeing religious persecution from several neighboring countries, including students at Jamia Millia Islamia University.
On Sunday afternoon, the third day of what had been a peaceful anti-law protest, passed by India’s parliament last week, plunged into chaos. There were three buses on fire, police officers said.
Chinmoy Biswal, a top police officer, said six police officers were injured in the clash in South Delhi’s affluent enclave.
Student leaders have blamed the violence on outsiders.
“We have maintained that our demonstrations are nonviolent and non-violent time and time again,” they said in a statement. “We stand by this stance and condemn the violence of any faction.”
At Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi, where slogans such as “# SecularIndia” were graffitied on buildings, several students told The Associated Press that the police fired tear gas inside the library of the university and beat up demonstrators before closing all doors.
“We have been treated as criminals. Scores were injured and I fled to save my life from campus, “said Tufail Ahmad, a student.
Outside the campus, the area around Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, a predominantly Muslim city, was deserted after the violent protests with shops and houses tightly latched.
A trail of rocks showing video footage of protesters pelted at police lay earlier in the day with broken glass fragments and blood splatters.
Videos shared with the AP by students streaming past a police line around the campus showed chaotic scenes in the university library with police shooting tear gas and students huddled under tables and locked in bathrooms.
“Police invaded the campus by intimidation, there was no authorization. Our staff and students are being beaten and forced to leave the campus, “said Waseem Ahmed Khan, Jamia Millia Islamia University’s top official.
According to Father George, the spokesperson for the school, many of the wounded students were taken to nearby hospitals, including Holy Family, where about 26 students were treated.
“Taking me to the ground, the police beat me mercilessly. My other friends were not spared either, “said Mujeeb Raza, a student in the nearby Al-Shifa hospital being treated.
Local authorities ordered all schools to remain closed on Monday in south-east Delhi. Jamia Millia University said it was closing early for the winter break on Saturday.
The Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh’s northern state declared it was shutting down early for the break after Sunday’s student protesters clashed with police.
On Sunday night, hundreds of activists gathered outside the New Delhi police headquarters to protest alleged police brutality and student detention.
A video message for students was released by Jamia Millia Islamia Vice Chancellor Nazma Akhtar, APN announced on Monday, in which she said she was in solidarity with them. She also said that she will soon be addressing the issue of bringing the police into the university with officials at the highest level.
India Today quoting police said in the early hours of Monday as many as 50 students were released, who were detained during the protests on Sunday.
Scroll.in claimed that videos showed chaotic scenes in the classroom, with sounds of objects being shattered and students running and crouching under desks.
A female student said a lot of students ran back to the hostel area when the police started running into the campus. “In police lathi-charge, several students were trapped,” she was quoted as saying by Scroll.in. “Many wounded people have been taken to the hospital, but others are still in the hostels.”
The students said that as they beat them, the police were “uncontrollable.” The lights were turned off in some places. “Only empty buildings have been searched,” Scroll.in quoted a student as saying.
“Some policemen entered the toilets and attacked students.” A video showed an unconscious student lying on a washroom floor, while another student cowered in a corner, his face covered with a blood-stained cloth.
Police denied the on-campus shooting, though videos that emerged later in the evening showed police using rifles. Several students who spoke to Scroll.in said they believed they had fired rubber bullets.
The protests have raged particularly in some eastern states like Assam, Tripura, and West Bengal, where distrust of immigrants from Bangladesh has persisted for decades. Northeast India’s death toll from violent protests increased to six on Sunday.
In an effort to maintain law and order, authorities have shut down internet access in several areas of the affected states.
Modi, speaking on Sunday at a rally in Jharkhand’s eastern state, blamed the opposition Congress party and its supporters for inciting violence against the rule of citizenship.
The Congress Party, in turn, slammed on Twitter the Bharatiya Janata Party of Modi, saying that the government “failed in its duty to maintain peace in the country.” New report on Indian students start protests against ‘anti-Muslim’ citizenship law.