“We are no longer safe in Delhi”: A visually impaired Jamia student recounts police attack

19 December 2019
Courtesy Anupam Prashant Minz
Courtesy Anupam Prashant Minz

On 15 December, students of Jamia Millia Islamia held protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the third consecutive day. That day, the students had conducted peaceful protests within the university premises. Yet, the Delhi Police forced their way into campus and attacked the students with brute force, using lathis and tear gas. Numerous accounts revealed that the police force entered the library and even attacked students who were not involved in the protests.

Among them was Arsalan Tariq, a second-year student pursuing a master’s in business administration at JMI. In a conversation with Meghna Prakash, an intern at The Caravan, Tariq recounted his ordeal, including how police personnel continued beating him even as he told them that he was visually impaired, unable to see from his left eye. “We will take all the blindness out of your eyes right now,” he said one police officer had responded. Tariq questioned, “If they do not have pity even on a blind student, how can the common man remain safe?”

Over the past few days, we have been facing so many atrocities, so much violence has been occurring in Jamia. On the morning of 15 December, I went to the library’s old reading hall at 11 am to study for my exams. I sat in the MPhil section because that’s the quietest place in the whole library. At 5 o’clock, I could hear that protests were going on, everyone was shouting. Then, at around 5.15 pm, I heard that tear gas was being thrown by the police in the roads. I could hear so many horrible sounds. It was very scary. I thought it was happening because the students were protesting and it would just remain outside.

But at 5.30 pm, I heard some students shout really badly. They came upstairs, in the library. They closed the doors of the library. When I asked them what was happening, a student told me that the police are inside the campus. The student said that the police surrounded Jamia from all four corners, they broke the gates and came inside. Some of the policemen were coming from the back, some from the front, throwing tear gas and doing lathi charge. After that, all the students who were in the first floor of the library quickly ran up and came to the MPhil section, where I was sitting. All the students came to the MPhil section and closed the doors of the library because they thought the police might come to the library also.

From the window, we could see that the police force had broken the doors of the library. They entered and started destroying all the pillars and windows of the library. The police also came upstairs. It was a very scary situation, but we were still not panicking. We calmed down, and blocked the door with tables. Still, the police came upstairs with their lathis, they broke the door and entered quickly. I could not imagine or see what the situation was. I could not tell everyone what was happening.

Arsalan Tariq is an MBA student at Jamia Millia Islamia.

Keywords: Jamia Milia Islamia Citizenship (Amendment) Act Delhi Police police cruelty