Jamia riots: Protests by students were not peaceful, says police were justified in entering the university

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Jamia Riots 2019
Express Photo by Gajendra Yadav

The National Human Rights Commission in its report on the Police crackdown at the Jamia Milia Islamia University in December 2019 has concluded that the Police had legitimate grounds for its actions and said that the protests by Jamia students were not entirely peaceful. The NHRC report dated 18th May 2020 was released only recently.

Most significantly, the NHRC concluded, “The protest dated 15.12.2019 of students was not peaceful as they claimed.” The NHRC also stated in its report that the protests witnessed the involvement of local political leaders as well. It said, “Many appeals made by the police including senior officers were ignored by the protesters. If the protest was peaceful, then there is no answer as to how large no. of private and Govt. property were destroyed and many vehicles were burnt down.”

The NHRC report also said that the protests were carried out without the permission of the University and the Police and permission was not even sought for the same. There were clashes between the protesters and police on the 13th of December as well but no report or complaint was made regarding the same.

On the 15th, a protest was called by students and local residents despite the denial of permission from the University and Police. The report says, “They also attacked the police with stones, petrol bomb etc. They blocked the traffic from all sides at Mathura Road, Ashram Chowk. The gathering was declared an ‘unlawful assembly’ by the police.” Regarding this, the report says that the police was “law bound to contain the activities of this unlawful assembly to maintain the law & Order”.

Source: NHRC report via LiveLaw

The NHRC further states in its report, “While these protesters were pushed back, they damaged property alongside of the road. The member of unlawful assembly reached near Jamia Milia University and blocked the traffic movement and entered the campus. From there, they continued pelting stones on the police party. Seeing no other alternative, police also entered the campus to contain the violent/unruly mob and to remove them from the campus.”

However, the NHRC concluded that the use of tear gas shells was irresponsible on the part of the police. But the NHRC did admit that “It is beyond doubt that students of Jamia Milia Islamia University, local residents, doubtful character, political leaders were actively involved in various violent protests in Jamia area.” The NHRC also noted that there was apparent failure on the part of the Police in their lack of awareness beforehand regarding the developments that occurred.

In a damning indictment of the University administration, the report said that “they did not try to share any development of discontentment of students with local police and also did not seek any assistance from them”. It also states that the the students are “prone to mingling with local population” which needs a “permanent solution”.

The NHRC report recommended that adequate compensation be provided to the students who were injured during the police crackdown on the university. It also recommends action against law enforcement personnel caught on CCTV damaging cameras, “unnecessarily coming inside the reading rooms of libraries of Jamia Millia Islamia and also using tear gas shells inside the close compound of the library”.

The report emphasised that “There is a need to uncover real actors and motive behind overall protest at Jamia Milia Islamia which seems to be smart and purportedly organised under disguise of students.”

The Jamia Riots in December 2019

The cycle of violence in Delhi erupted in December 2019 following the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act and culminated with the Delhi riots in February 2020. The violence erupted in Delhi after Jamia ‘shero’ Ladeeda Farzana gave a call for Jihad on social media. Soon, she and Aysha Renna became the face of the Jamia protests.

A host of Jamia students have also been charged in the Delhi Riots case over the communal violence that erupted at the national capital in February. The President of Jamia Alumni Association Shifa-Ur-Rehman, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider and Jamia Millia Islamia University students Asif Iqbal Tanha, Gulfisha Khatoon have been charged in the matter.

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