By Towfeeq Wani:
In yet another brazen incident of selective harassment of the students of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, at least four unidentified men, who the university administration believes to be Delhi police, entered the premises of the Hall of Residence for Boys in plain clothes on August 13.
The visit took place in the afternoon, triggering panic among the residents of the seven hostels. When quizzed about their identity and presence inside the campus by some students, they dodged the questions, and when the students raised a hue and cry, the police were forced to leave in a hurry. It is pertinent to mention here that the entrance of the Hall is under CCTV surveillance and is manned by Jamia Police (Jamia’s security guards) at all times.
Within no time, the students took to social media to inform other students about the incident. Less than an hour later, hundreds of students gathered near the Old Library and marched to Gate 07 where they demonstrated against the high-handedness of state agencies and incompetence of Jamia administration.
In a post shared on its Facebook wall, Jamia Students Forum expressed concern over the unexplained entry of police officials and termed the raid as ‘unconstitutional’.
“Now and then we have to face such harassment because they always see us with suspicion. Why haven’t there been such raids in other colleges and universities in and around Delhi?” A protesting student asked while showing pictures of the vehicle that had entered the campus on his phone.
Interestingly, on August 13, Jamia administration maintained that the police authorities visited the campus for “routine verification.” However, in a letter from the office of the Dean Students’ Welfare addressed to the students of Jamia on August , the administration appealed the students to “maintain calm on the campus”. The letter also accepted that “Four Delhi Police personnel in plain clothes entered the University premises without permission” and that “The DCP South East has been requested to take suitable action against these police personnel.”
The protesting students have been demanding that if the administration knew of the visit and still allowed them to enter, then the Proctor must resign and if they had no knowledge of it before the incident, they must address a press conference to condemn the police action.
A student who confronted the men said that “They were taking photographs inside the hostels, and when they proceeded to other hostels, we followed them.”
In his defence, the Proctor has said that the police did not have permission to enter the campus and that no raid had been conducted. “I got to know this had happened when a student called me. The police had apparently told the students that they had permission, which was not true. In fact, when I asked them later how they had entered, they (police officials) apologised profusely.”
However, DCP (south-east) told Indian Express that “The beat staff had gone to meet the proctor. There was no confusion. We did not conduct any raid and neither did anyone take pictures in the hostels. All allegations are false.” Apart from the Proctor’s defence that he had no knowledge of it, the fact that the office of the Proctor is almost a kilometre away from the hostel premises raises some serious questions about these statements.
When YKA asked a hostel resident why they were still protesting even when the Proctor and DCP had cleared their stands, he alleged that all this is not only shady but based on lies. “On the evening of August 12, certain mess workers were sent to our hostels who asked us to take extra care during the next few days and not to invite any other student inside the hostels, especially Kashmiris. If they did not know about it, why would they make us cautious?”
Another student also had similar questions,“Another important question to be raised is that why didn’t the police come in their official vehicles and uniform? Can anyone come and harass students in Jamia?”
Jamia students, especially the residents of Boys Hostel, have alleged harassment by state agencies post-Delhi terror attacks of 2005. The allegations also ran high after Batla House Encounter of 2008. However, nothing like this has happened in the past five years.
Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor of the varsity is out of the station.