They rained batons, said they will give us “azadi”: Jamia students counter police claims on Sunday attack

17 December 2019
A student injured in Delhi’s Jamia Millia University, on Sunday, being taken for treatment outside the campus. The Delhi Police stormed the campus that evening and severely beat students, even inside spaces such as the library and the mosque. Eyewitness accounts directly contradict the police’s justifications for having entered Jamia.
Ishan Tankha
A student injured in Delhi’s Jamia Millia University, on Sunday, being taken for treatment outside the campus. The Delhi Police stormed the campus that evening and severely beat students, even inside spaces such as the library and the mosque. Eyewitness accounts directly contradict the police’s justifications for having entered Jamia.
Ishan Tankha

At around 11 pm on Sunday, 15 December, a man in his thirties ran after a police van that exited through the main gate of Delhi’s Holy Family Hospital. The van disappeared into the darkness towards Okhla Road. The man chased the van for some distance, repeatedly yelling, “Aamir ko le gaye”—They took Aamir. Before he could rush back to his car to continue his chase, he was surrounded by journalists standing outside the hospital gate. The man identified himself as the brother-in-law of Aamir Sohail Siddiqui, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia. Hours earlier, Delhi Police personnel had entered the Jamia campus and brutally beaten the students, including Siddiqui.

“We had been asked to wait outside the emergency ward for the last two hours. The hospital administration told us Aamir had only three stitches in his head but didn’t let us see him,” the brother-in-law said. “And then the next moment we see he was being whisked away from the backdoor of the hospital into a police van full of cops. His head was entirely bandaged. Nobody told us anything what had happened to him and where did they take him.” This was all he could tell the media before leaving to enquire about his relative. Siddiqui was later found to be undergoing treatment at the Safdarjung Hospital. His friend, Syed Shariq Ahmad Rizvi, said Siddiqui was disacharged later in the night.

The scene at Holy Family was chaotic, but the agony of Siddiqui’s brother-in-law was hardly exceptional. Several families I spoke to were clueless about the whereabouts and conditions of their injured relatives, and desperate for updates. Many were not even allowed to enter into the premises and kept beseeching the hospital guards to open the gates. Delhi Police personnel were present in large numbers—wearing military gear and stationed on the hospital premises as well as at its gate, they kept shooing away the patients’ family members and the journalists reporting at the scene. Every now and then, the gate would open, but only to let the police vans enter or exit.

Apart from some family members, Jamia students and faculty members were also waiting outside Holy Family, wanting the security to let them in. The police’s manner in asking people to stay away from the hospital’s gate was hostile. When I was interviewing one of the students whose friend was undergoing treatment, half a dozen policemen moved towards us and asked us to leave. When I asked them to let me finish the interview, one of them retorted, “Chal, tumhara interview karate hai”—Come, we will get your interview done. One student asked the officers why they could not stand outside the hospital when their friends and family members were undergoing treatment. One of the officers responded, “Hum ghar bhijwa denge, ja”—We will send them, you go. The cops prevailed and we had to move away from the gate.

Sagar is a staff writer at The Caravan.

Keywords: Citizenship (Amendment) Act Jamia Milia Islamia student protest Delhi Police
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