Students, Activists Recount Brutal Police Attack on Jamia Students in 2019
New Delhi: Hundreds of people gathered at the Press Club of India on Wednesday recounted the brutal police attack on students of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), which happened on December 15, 2019. The attack on students inside the campus during the countrywide anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests had sparked widespread outrage.
In the first discussion as part of Wednesday’s event, students from both universities as well as activists spoke about the terror and violence they felt and witnessed that day. It may be recalled that dozens of students were injured in the brutal lathi-charge on students, some of whom were in the library.
Among those who recounted the horror were Radhika Chitkara of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Fawaz Shaheen of the Quill Foundation, and Akhtarista Ansari and Anugya Jha, who were students of JMI when the attacks took place. The discussion was chaired by author and activist Farah Naqvi, with author Arundhati Roy as the Guest of Honour.
JMI students Anugya and Akhtarista spoke of the terror that followed after they took out an anti-CAArally , and the panic experienced by the those trapped inside the university and their families.
Farah Naqvi and Fawaz Shaheen, who both reached the area the moment the news of the attack started spreading, flayed the “sheer apathy” of Delhi police as they went from police station to police station, trying to figure out how many students had been detained and injured. Naqvi spoke about the fear she saw on the faces of the families who had gathered outside the police stations where the gates had been locked from inside.
Fawaz Shaheen, who went to AMU on the same night, when SOS messages started coming from the students, spoke about the deafening silence that he experienced when he reached the university. “When I and two other people reached the university, we only saw RAF (Rapid Action Force) personnel in blue uniforms. No one said a word. The students were so scared that they refused to speak to us. At the hospital where the injured students had been admitted, three of whom were in the ICU, doctors couldn’t look us in the eyes. We found out whatever information we could from a guard, who seemed just as terrified as the students.”
Several speakers highlighted the importance of fact-finding reports, and the government's continuous attempts at erasing them.
The second panel discussion had speakers such as Nodeep Kaur, activist from Majdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Farzana Yasmeen, sister of Meeran Haider, a research scholar from Jamia who has been in prison since March 2020, and the daughter of Mohammad Salim Khan, who was charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act or UAPA and arrested. The discussion was chaired by researcher and activist Banojyotsna Lahiri.
Kaur, who had been arrested in January 12, 2021, in connection with the farmers’ movement and granted bail later, spoke about the importance of protests. “This government wants to tell us that anyone who speaks against it does not belong in this country. This is why it is so important for us to stand with anyone who protests against the government in any part of the country,” she said.
The other two speakers spoke about the pain of having close family members trapped in jail for no mistake of theirs.
In her concluding speech, Arundhati Roy said it was important to remember that people in power were trying to constantly divide the citizens of the country, because the government "fears the power of the people," adding that protests and resistance were more important than ever in these times.
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