“They are shutting down the campus to quell the protests”: AMUSU president Salman Imtiaz

31 December 2019
Imtiaz said that AMU students will continue protesting until the CAA is withdrawn.
Courtesy Salman Imtiaz
Imtiaz said that AMU students will continue protesting until the CAA is withdrawn.
Courtesy Salman Imtiaz

On 15 December, the Uttar Pradesh police entered the campus of the Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh and led a crackdown on students gathered for a peaceful protest. The students had assembled to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and police brutality on the protesting students of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, earlier in the day. According to AMU students, the police lobbed tear-gas shells and stun grenades, and used lathis on them. The students have also accused the police of entering student hostels and beating the residents. They claim at least a hundred students were injured in the crackdown.

The police have denied using excessive force and claimed they acted in self-defence after the students pelted stones at them. “The AMU students were aggressive,” Ashish Kulhari, the senior superintendent of police, Aligarh, told the news agency ANI. “They deliberately pelted stone on police forces. Police then used the non-lethal weapon as part of self-defence and to disperse the protestors by using the minimum force.” The same day, Abdul Hamid, the AMU registrar, issued a notice to close down the university till 5 January, citing “disturbances created by certain anti-social elements.”

On 23 December, the Aligarh Muslim University Students Union released a report detailing their version of what transpired on the night of 15 December. It includes accounts of six students who were seriously injured. One such account is of Shahid Hussian, who is pursuing a masters’ of arts degree in history.  “He was beaten inside the hostel,” the report said. “He was dragged into the police van and asked about his domicile state. Once he told them that he was from Jammu and Kashmir, he was tied to a tree and beaten for 10 minutes by police using Lathis and Gun butts. He was ethnically targeted and called names. He was called a Pakistani and was told that he is being Azaad”—freed—“with every whip of the stick. His mobile was broken and taken away. He was kept in a dark room for the night without any humanitarian aid. He had torture marks from head to toe … doctors had to capture 16 X-Rays to assess his conditions.”

Another account is of Mohammad Tariq, a doctoral scholar in the chemistry department. The report mentions that he was heading to his lab, when he fell down and a stun grenade hit his hand. “He had only the index finger left in his hand when he reached the hospital. His dominant hand has been amputated,” the report said.

A third account is of Tazeem Khan, a student of Urdu. According to the report, he was “dragged” out of a toilet and “ruthlessly beaten,” and has sustained fractures in his arm. “He was also taken into the van where he was called anti national and terms like Pakistani,” the report said. “He was taken to Malkan Singh Hospital where he was again beaten in presence of two hospital staff members. On asking for medical help, a constable denied the treatment and said that he is to be beaten more. He was beaten with belts. When he asked for water, he was threatened to be urinated in the mouth. He was taken to the jail where he along with nine people was kept in a dark room having the capacity for less than five. They were denied food.”

Nileena MS is a reporting fellow with The Caravan. 

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