“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Imtiaz said that AMU students will continue protesting until the CAA is withdrawn.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Imtiaz said that AMU students will continue protesting until the CAA is withdrawn.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.”

Nileena MS is a staff writer at The Caravan. She can be reached at nileenams@protonmail.com.

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