On Dec 15, students of Jamia Milia Islamia University organised a peaceful protest against the newly amended Citizenship Act that is expected to disproportionately affect Muslims in India. And then the police were deployed.
Men in uniform were filmed and photographed breaking into the library, lathi-charging students, and hurling tear gas shells at them. The police even forced some students to walk through campus with their arms raised. Police brutality sent more than 100 students to the hospital with serious injuries.
Jamia student Mohammad Kamil told India Today that Police didn’t stop just at the library and canteen. “Police entered the mosque inside the campus and harassed those who were praying,” he said.
Is it mere coincidence that a parallel protest against the Citizenship Act in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) also shared the same fate? There, too, police stormed the campus and hostels, firing tear gas, injuring 60 on campus. Internet services were immediately cut.
On the morning of December 16, students of Delhi University gathered at the Arts Faculty building in solidarity with Jamia and AMU. The same police force was deployed, but that’s not all. Certain plain-clothes people grabbed lathis (issued only to police) and began attacking students!
What state forces haven’t learnt, by now, is that students will never kowtow before these tired tactics. The student community across India has responded swiftly.
#LIVE: IIT-Bombay students protest against the atrocities on students of #JamiaMilia and #AMU despite refusal of permission by Dean-students affairs for march #JamiaProtest @IndianExpress @ie_mumbai pic.twitter.com/SWjlq5BBIX
— Abha Goradia (@AbhaGoradia) December 15, 2019
— Azhar Shaheen (@AzharShaheen10) December 15, 2019
Massive marches are happening across Kerala even at this hour protesting against CAB and police brutalities
Truly, a revolution has begun in every nook and corner of our country..pic.twitter.com/PkVaFK1sLl
— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) December 15, 2019
TISS, Mumbai stands in complete solidarity with the students of AMU, Jamia, DU and others. Let the fascists fall. Long live students unity! #BJPburningIndia #JamiaMilia #ShameOnDelhiPolice #SOSDU #AMUprotest pic.twitter.com/RLjJtBMoBI
— Varsha (@varshapoddar94) December 16, 2019
— Muadh Khan (@Muadh_Khan) December 15, 2019
BHU students protesting against the police crackdown on students at AMU, Jamia pic.twitter.com/eDRKnEWltZ
— Saurabh Sharma (@Saurabhsherry) December 16, 2019
— Hum Dekhenge ✊? (@charlesbritto) December 16, 2019
Pondicherry University in solidarity with the brutal attack on the students and vandalism caused in Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University.
Shame on the Central Government for carrying out such unconstitutional acts.#StandWithJamia #NoMoreBJP #StandWithAMU #NoToCAB pic.twitter.com/54FcQwMr4E
— Rupsha Mukherjee (@lyadhlagche) December 16, 2019
— Irfan (@NextToSRK) December 16, 2019
Standing up to this kind of violence is crucial and the students know it. When even the Supreme Court calls it “rioting”, it invisibilises the power imbalance between unarmed protesters and state forces armed with lathis and “orders”.
The national capital has already seen violence like this on two occasions – both in the dead of winter, both involving police brutalising unarmed protesters. One was the students protest outside the University Grants Commission at ITO, after the government slashed fellowships in higher education. And the other that gripped India Gate for days as furious Delhiites demanded punishment for the four men who raped 23-year-old Jyoti Singh (incidentally, on this exact date, seven years ago). In both cases, police began firing tear-gas shells at civilians. But the attacks on Jamia and AMU differ from both #OccupyUGC and ‘Nirbhaya’. The violence appears to have been orchestrated at Muslim-majority locations.
It’s difficult not to think of Nazi Germany.