New Delhi: Some students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), some of whom were not even in the city, are upset with the district administration's decision to book five former students, including two student union leaders, under the stringent Goonda Act in connection with the alleged violence in the campus during an anti-CAA-NRC protest as also against the police attack in Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi in mid-December.
Some students claimed they were being falsely projected as “accused”, and also claimed that they been booked under the Act despite the fact that they were not present in the city when the alleged violence took place.
"I was not present at the site of protest on the day of incidence, December 15. I was in Delhi. It is clearly evident that Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor and Registrar S Abdul Hamid are targeting me because I was the first one to confront them for their alleged malpractices. Despite these hurdles, I will continue to fight until my last breath," Huzaifa Aamir Rashadi, former secretary AMU Students Union told NewsClick. His name figures in the list of those booked under the Goonda act.
When questioned why his name was on the list if he was not present in Aligarh, Rashadi said: "Students who were fighting for the cause of our Constitution are being treated as if they are criminals while, ironically, the actual culprit of this event is being promoted as a reward,” accusing the Registrar Abdul Hamid as the “main culprit” responsible for the brutality on AMU students.
Hamza Sufyan, former vice-president of AMUSU, whose name also appeared in the list, said: "The university administration is coordinating with district administration and targeting those students who are vocal and have raised their voice against the university authorities for their wrong deeds. Before this Goonda Act, I, along with Huzaifa Aamir Rashadi, were put in jail for 53 days."
Sufyan also claimed that he was not in the city on the day of the alleged violence.
"When the protest was organised on December 15, most of us who have been booked under Goonda Act, were not present at the protest site. The university itself is unable to take any action, so they are involving police. The Vice Chancellor has regretted police action during the anti-CAA protest on December 15 night. He sought to assure students on their safety and the right to protest peacefully, but he has not taken a single step against the police. So, their (university) administration stand is clear, which is to suppress the voice of students."
Newsclick made several calls to AMU Proctor Afifullah Khan to seek his comments, but these went unanswered.
Confirming the news about the Goonda Act, Aligarh SSP Akash Kulhary told NewsClick on Thursday that they had identified five former students through the CCTV footage of December 15, provided by AMU authorities. These students will be booked under the Goonda Act.
"They are not AMU students. They passed out from the university a few years ago. I have written a letter to the district magistrate CB Singh to take action against these students under the Goonda Act so that they are out of bounds from Aligarh district,” Kulhary said.
When asked to respond to allegation that a few students were not present at the protest site and yet have been booked under Goonda Act, the SSP said: "Those who have multiple cases on them can be booked under Goonda Act. The people who have been booked under this Act have several other charges, including extortion and criminal cases.”
Meanwhile, two FIRs were filed by the Aligarh police, which arrested 26 identified protesters, including seven AMU students. The students were booked along with other 1,200 -1,300 unidentified people.
On December 15 night, around two dozen students were arrested by the police as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 allegedly turned violent on the AMU campus. Nearly 70 students were injured when police entered the campus. Among these is one student, Tarique, whose palm had to be amputated after a tear gas shell, fired by the police, burst on his hand. He is a research scholar in the chemistry department.
The AMU campus, in the meantime, has announced winter vacations till January 5.
Meanwhile, the death toll in CAA-related protests has now reached 18 in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh, including an eight-year-old boy.