ALIGARH: After the news of the police attack on Jamia Millia students started filtering over the social media, Aligarh Muslim University students came out spontaneously in solidarity. The terrifying videos and appeals for help evoked strong reactions across the campuses, with AMU amongst the first to reaspond on December 15. In the evening the students started gathering at the Library Canteen and moved towards the main gate Bab-e-Syed where most of the protests usually take place.

The heavy contingent of police, supported by the Rapid Action Force, confronted them with choice abuse according to a fact finding team of the Quill Foundation that has just released a preliminary report, and followed this with tear gas ehlls, rubber bullets , stun grenades. Internet services were suspended, so after the initial videos of the police barging through the gates and smashing two wheelers that were parked outside, there was social media silence for some hours. The students ran back, and sought refuge in the campus buildings.

A student who was involved told The Citizen that the protestors had dispersed and there was little need for further action but suddenly the police, as if following instructions, stormed through the main gates into the campus. The fact finding team has also confirmed this saying that the police started breaking down the iron gates around 10 pm.

From this time on it was police brutality at its worst. Sufficient videos have been shared since by the students, taken from a distance, of the police moving through the campus, dragging out students and taking them away. Armed men entered the buildings, raiding the guest houses wherre the students had taken refuge as well as the mosque. A video of a university guard has him narrating the attack on the Imam. Another video, corrorboated later by students, has the police on loudspeakers asking the students to come out as if they were criminals. Students spoke of suffocation because of the heavy volley of tear gas shells. Some tried to throw these out of the buildings, and burnt their hands. The fact finding has confirmed that one student lost his hand when the grenade blew as soon as he picked it up, and his hand has been subsequently amputated.

Students said that Sir Syed North Hostel was targeted by the police. The fact finding has recorded the “disproportionate and extraordinary use of force with malafide intent by the police” at Room no 46 of Morrison Court hostel. Here several students who had not even participated in the protests, were attacked by the police who first beat the guard who had to be admitted to hospital, and then fired tear gas at almost point blank range. The room caught fire and the the three students who were in that room stumbled out semi conscious. The students were badly assaulted and according to the Quill Foundation one of the students Syed Mohammad Mehdi Rizvi has been missing since. Other students put out videos of the rooms set on fire by the police, with appeals for help. But AMU had been turned into a fortress and no one could venture near while the police ran amuck inside the campus.

Over a 100 students were detained, and according now to the fact finding team at least 20 are missing. Over 50 students were injured of these three critically. Quill Foundation said that the three critical students are one, a student whose right hand had to be amputated because an unidentified explosive similar to a tear-gas grenade exploded in his hand, two, a student who was suffering repeated seizures due to being hit on the head with a lathi and three, a student who was shot by a rubber bullet in the head. The injuries do not record the sheer terror and trauma that the students went through the night, for doing little more than exercising their right to protest. And supporting their colleagues in Jamia who had been attacked as mercilessly.

The administration ordered the AMU authorities to close down the university immediately and clear the hostels. The girls were also given no time to vacate, many of them from different parts of the country. After this was taken up the authorities agreed to drop the girls to their homes within a 350km radius. The Citizen spoke to the girl hostels Provost a day ago who said all arrangements were being made. Asked about reports that the girls living outside the radius, as from Kashmir and other cities were terrified for their security, she said that they were going to be allowed to stay for another two days while their rail tickets were booked. Parents and guardians had been contacted to fetch their wards as well, she said.

In both Jamia and AMU the police went in with lathis, tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades following a similar modus operandi. In both Universities the armed police broke down the gates, rushed inside, attacked the students, went into the buildings, fired at them with tear gas shells and rubber bullets, dragged them out, beat them mercilessly, smashed the properties all the while hurling the worst kind of abuse that has been captured in most of the video recordings. The students in both universities said that they were suddenly turned into ‘enemies’, targets to be viciously attacked and beaten and fired at. The fear was visible in the video shared by The Citizen at the onset of the students in the Urdu Library in Jamia, where they could hear shots, the advancing cops, then feel the bullets and tear gas shells ---”they are firing at us, they are trying to kill us, please help us, we will all die” ---before the police came in beating them mercilessly with lathis all over their bodies, including heads, kicking them in the stomach and then dragging them away to police stations. In AMU they cut off the lights, the internet and spent hours doing this and more to the students who could not even appeal for help.

This report has been put together by The Citizen Bureau based on interviews with students of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia as well as shared videos along with facts ascertained by a team who visited AMU comprising Advocates Aman Khan and Fazal (HRLN) and Fawaz Shaheen (Quill Foundation)