JAISHREE KUMAR | 18 DECEMBER, 2019
Undeterred by Attacks, Delhi University Protests Against Police Brutality
#CAAProtests in Delhi University
NEW DELHI: On December 17, Delhi University (DU) students held a demonstration at the Faculty of Arts against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the police brutality at Jamia Millia Islamia University.
The DU demonstration followed a string of protests by Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) students against the CAA, two of which turned violent. Instances of students being attacked and lathi-charged by the police were reported on December 13 and December 15.
The DU protest held yesterday reportedly clashed with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s (ABVP) demonstration in solidarity with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Protesters were allegedly attacked by the ABVP and lathi-charged by the police at the Faculty of Social Sciences.
In one of the videos circulating online, Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) president Akshit Dahiya can be seen attacking a young man identified as Merin. DU students were reportedly attacked by ABVP members and lathi-charged by the police during the protest on December 16 as well.
A day before the protest, the Student Union came out with a notice thanking all DU students for supporting the CAA. However, many disagreed. Some of the students took part in an online campaign to denounce the DUSU, using hashtags #NotOurUnion and #NotInOurName.
Placards of ‘DUSU 2019 RESIGN’ were a common sight at the protest yesterday. Meanwhile, several departments and student unions across the university released statements of solidarity with the students of JMI and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), condemning the CAA and the NRC.
Debojit Gogoi, a first-year student at Ramanujan College, Delhi University said, “It’s great to see several campuses protest against the CAA and police brutality but I feel like the attention to these issues came only after students in Delhi began protesting. Students of Gauhati University, Cotton University, Dibrugarh University, and Tezpur University have been protesting against the bill for weeks and due to the current internet shutdown, we don’t know what’s happening there. Even as we come here to protest, let us remember Kashmir and Assam, and how their voices can’t be heard today.”
Revolutionary slogans chanted by the students of “Inquilab Zindabad”, “Jo Hitler ki chal chalega, woh Hitler ki maut marega” and, “Sarforoshi ki tammana ab humare dil mein hain” reverberated through the air even as the police maintained silence and stood by while ABVP members began their assault on student protesters.
It began with a half-broken brick flung through the air at the students. Shreya Kapoor, a Journalism student at Indraprastha College for Women was heckled to the ground while the attacker kicked her chest. Anjali, another DU student was slapped by an ABVP member while she went to fetch water.
Ateen Das, an economics student from Kirori Mal College was grabbed by his neck while he was on his way to the Faculty of Arts to join the protests. The attacker allegedly asked him, “Are you a communist?”, to which Das responded in the negative. A policeman intervened and the attacker let him go. The ABVP’s tirade continued and this time, they targeted the Muslim students.
Badshah Ibrahim, a student at Delhi University was shoved to the ground and his spectacles were broken when he tried to step in to save his friend. The Delhi Police claimed to be helpless when they were asked to take action. Minutes after this incident, a woman is also said to have been attacked while walking with her friend.
In a video circulating online, two men, one of them identified as Jitendra Chaudhary from ABVP can be seen sitting on a bench with a scared young man named Saeed between them. In the video, they can be seen attempting to intimidate Saeed, asking repeatedly, “What were you doing in AISA-SFI’s protest?” They continued to demand an answer to their question, “Are you for or against the Citizenship Amendment Act?” When he said that he is against the CAA, they tell him that he is effectively against the state and are seen gesturing towards someone to detain him.
Kunal Baruah, a graduate from Delhi University stated, “The CAA-NRC debate is much more complex than what the media shows. The CAA has triggered many old wounds that go back decades before.”
Gangmei, a second-year master's student at DU from Manipur said, “I don’t fully agree with the views of the people here. I support refugees but I am against illegal immigration. The government, despite its promises, has failed to deport illegal immigrants who continue living on our land that has limited resources. What keeps me on this side of the barricade is that I am against hooliganism, I am against the suppression of voices and dissent.”
Even though the ABVP were less in number, they decided to make their presence felt by climbing the barricades and hooting, “Aa le le azaadi.” They continued to shout slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, “Vande Mataram” and “Jai Shri Ram” through the protest. At one point, they are said to have started playing the dhol and dancing.
Ayushi Rana, a PhD candidate in the Department of Sanskrit at Delhi University said, “Do you see them? Those anti-nationals? Do you see what kind of slogans they are shouting?” When this reporter asked her what kind of slogans she was referring to, Rana seemed to be taken aback and yelled, “They are saying Hinduon ki kabr khudegi (Graves will be dug for Hindus). How can you say that in this country?” This reporter observed that no such slogans were being chanted by the students.
With student protests continue across the country, Rana told The Citizen, “Let these idiots protest. The Bill was passed by both the houses of the Parliament and got the President’s assent. Nothing in the world can change that.”
A short while after the ABVP dispersed, protesters burnt a copy of the bill and marched towards the Vishwavidyalaya metro station, crossing the University stadium. Students made their dissatisfaction with the Delhi Police clear through their slogans as police officers looked on. The march ended at the metro station where the Delhi University Teachers’ Association was holding a candlelight dharna for their demands.