Published: 16th December 2019
The day Jamia burned: A blow-by-blow account of how the police dismantled student dissent
While a few students with worse injuries were given medical attention earlier but most of these students were kept without any medical aid in spite of being were injured
December 15 was like any other Sunday for many at Jamia Millia Islamia — lingering at the library or around the campus. The students, like on many campuses, were also protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. They had a march planned. But never in their wildest dreams could they imagine the Delhi police rampaging through their campus, hitting students mercilessly, shooting tear gas bullets across the campus.
6.34 pm: They barged in
Sumedha Poddar from the Humanities Department of the university was on campus when it started raining tear gas shells. "We were in front of the Central Library and we ran inside the reading room to protect ourselves. But this did not change anything. The police barged in, broke the window panes and shot tear gas shells inside," said Sumedha. "We went upstairs and hid in a corner, switched off the lights so that the police couldn't find us. We were there hiding for almost one hour and were continuously calling the authority to help us.
Chandan Kumar, a third-year student of mass communication and media studies, was part of the protest that apparently initiated the fiasco. But the march was over midway when the police lathicharged. "We came back to the campus as we thought it would be safer. Suddenly there was tear gas everywhere. It felt like I was going to die," said Chandan. "We made our way to the bathroom to hide. We never thought the police would come up there. They started hitting us like they wanted to kill us. Who hits a student so hard? We kept saying that we are students and why they were hitting us in our campus. We were not protesting there. We had already come back to campus. Why hit us then?" he asked.
6.43 pm: The bad, the worse and the worst
After a while, the police came up and asked us to move out silently putting our hands up. They threatened us that they will hit us if we opened our mouth," added Sumedha. Sumedha and her friends were taken to the Batla locality from the campus.
But the police did not stop. They kept hitting the students — Chandan suffered a big cut on his head but somehow managed to escape. "I somehow ran off. I do know-how. But Shoaib, my friend was not that lucky. The police kept hitting him till they reached the gate and then he also somehow ran and took refuge at the mosque outside the campus," he recounts. "Once I met some of the students they made arrangements to call for an ambulance and sent me to the Al Shifa Hospital. Shoib too got medical attention at the Holy Family Hospital," he added.
Many students like Sumedha and Chandan were assaulted but then not all of them were lucky enough to be taken to the hospital right away. Around 50 students were at the Kalkaji and New Friend's Colony Police Station till almost 4.30 am on Monday. While a few with worse injuries were given medical attention earlier but most of these students were kept without any medical aid in spite of being were injured.