Dubai: Videos, pictures and testimonials from violent clashes at a central university in India flooded social media last night as Indian students protested against the newly passed Citizenship Ammendment Act in the country.
Students at Jamia Millia Islamia, a central university, had been protesting against the Act ever since the bill was signed into law by the Indian president, Ram Nath Kovind.
Gulf News spoke with an academician at Jamia Millia Islamia who was present at the hospital and police station ensuring students were safe after violence erupted.
“I was receiving messages and calls from students ever since the problem started after around 6pm yesterday. They were at the hospital and needed help. But the entire area was barricaded at that time and I was unable to get out of my house. By around 10pm the police presence had reduced so my husband and I drove to the Holy Family hospital (next to the university campus),” Tarnnum Siddiqui, who works at the Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women Studies, told Gulf News.
Even before she could enter the hospital, she saw a woman outside, struggling with mobility after receiving medical care but people around her were hesitant to help. The woman’s legs were badly injured.
“My husband asked her to sit in the car and we found out that she was a domestic worker who had been beaten up by the police. She said that she lived nearby and was unable to reach her home. We drove her to her house in Batla House,” she added.
On the way, she informed the couple that she was unaware of the protests and was beaten up by the police. Her clothes were torn in the encounter. A girl and boy who study at the campus took her to the hospital and even gave her some clothes to change into.
They had just dropped the worker home when Siddiqui started receiving frantic calls and messages. The students had been taken out of the hospital and to the police station in New Friends Colony.
“The girls were crying, saying that police had taken students away, dragging and beating them,” she said.
The girls were crying, saying that police had taken students away, dragging and beating them.
Many of these students had been actively protesting against the Act and were in close touch with Siddiqui. On her way to the police station, she called people in the media whom she knew, to update them on the situation. As the couple reached the police station, the area was relatively quiet.
“I asked the police officers to be let inside to speak to the students and ensure they were alright. I told them that as a guardian I needed to ensure that they were alright. I was worried that there might be a few girl students at the station as well. I even named a few students who were being detained and told them that I was here on their behalf,” Siddiqui said.
When the police authorities refused to let Siddiqui in, she called some members of the university administration and teachers’ association. As the university registrar came to the station he was let in along with a few activists. They met the students and when they returned, they confirmed that there were no girls being detained. However, students needed urgent medical care, which was not being provided.
“After a while, the police told us that the students were no longer with them. They had probably taken them from the other entrance to the hospital. We refused to leave until the registrar checked and confirmed that the students were no longer at the station,” she said.
The day after
Some of the students are at the trauma centre, due to the seriousness of their injury. Siddiqui, however, ensured that news of any casualties was quickly debunked.
“I spoke to my network and told them not to spread any messages claiming there were any deaths,” she said.
Today, she was unable to reach the university campus until after 2pm due to heavy police presence and roads being blocked.
The students, however, continued to make their presence felt at the campus and continued to protest against the bill.
“I want to just say that whatever happened at the campus last night was completely wrong. The students were not at all violent,” she said.
Earlier today, the university's Vice-chancellor Najma Akhtar held a press conference denouncing the entry of the police forces into the university's campus. Students and teachers gathered at the open air auditorium at the campus to discuss how the protests will be taken forward.