Police entered Jamia girls’ reading hall, broke bathroom doors, switched off lights…
December 30, 2019
A civil rights organization, Independent Women’s Initiative* has released a 82-page report “Unafraid: The Day Young Women Took the Battle to the Streets”, carrying testimonies of 18 women, mainly students, who participated in protests against the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, where violence broke down on December 13 and 15.
The report provides a graphic picture of the attempt to crush the students-led protests against CAA and NRC after they marched with soaring voices proclaiming “truth, justice and equality”. The women, mostly students between 19 and 31 years of age, with whom members of the NGO spoke to “were stirred” and “stepped out”, telling their stories of the two days at Jamia.
The report tolks of “grave injustices” against those who “struck out spontaneously to oppose CAA and NRC, and of “targeted state violence, arbitrary arrest and detention of peacefully protesting citizens.”
One of the 18 testimonies is from Chanda Yadav, 20, a student of BA (Hindi Honours), Jamia Millia Islamia. She belongs to a small village in Chandoli district in Uttar Pradesh. She is the first girl in her village to go to a University. She lives on her own outside the campus in private accommodation.
Text of the testimony
December 11: We started planning for a women’s march. We had a meeting at the new girls’ hostel and made a group where we added others to reach out to more women. We initiated the call for the march against CAA and NRC.
December 12: The next day, students from the Old Girls Hostel (Tikona park) and New Girls Hostel were to march inside the campus. Girls met in front of Gate nos. 7 and 8, in front of the Ghalib statue– many came to protest against NRC and CAA. The protest was when the photo was taken that went viral – of three girls standing and I was playing the dafli.
It began raining very heavily but the was shifted to the library. We ended the protest at 10:30 pm with a call for a march from Jamia to Parliament from 2:00 om on the December 13 to begin at Gate no. 7 along with the Jamia Teachers’ Association (JTA).
December 13: We had a public meeting with JTA from 2:00 PM in front of Gate no. 7, in front of Ghalib Lawn, and then we started our march from 3:00 PM. We gave a call for boycotting the papers (exams of 3rd year BA from December 14) for the next few days, which were to be taken by about 1000 students and then went to Gate no. 1 where we continued the protest. It was a completely non-violent protest.
As soon as we reached Gate no. 1, we saw there were barricades there, ahead of the sports complex. Some students climbed over the barricades. The police used tear gas and stun grenades (aag phir dhuan waali). Police hit journalists, beat students. The protesters scattered into groups – those at Gate no. 1 (at the barricade) near Holy Family Hospital and those at Jullena red light. Most of them were behind Gate no. 1.
Police began hitting students who were on both sides of the barricades. We were caught in-between the two barricades – but the Police on either side did not allow us to go. Several students were detained and sent to Badarpur Police Station. Many students were hospitalised at Holy Family Hospital, and Al Shifa Hospital.
December 14: At Gate no. 7, many students gathered and the protests continued.
December 15: We decided on a march and gave a call for it to begin at 11:30 am – we gave the call to the community around Jamia and there was increased participation from students in the girls’ hostels. We began moving towards Jullena from Batla House. The protest started at 12:30 pm and at 3:00 pm we reached Gate no. 7.
We sat there for sometime. Then we moved towards Jullena – there was a barricade on the New Friends Colony Community Centre side, where the Surya Hotel is also located. Police were standing there with lathis, so we changed the route. We reached the New Friends Colony red light when we saw police with lathis, who had come suddenly – they weren’t there earlier.
They gave ma-behan gaali, (sister f***ker and mother f***ker) and said, “randi ki aulad, ja nikal!” (get out of here you child of a whore!). I sat on the road
They came suddenly as if to attack and students started running. There was a stampede. I fell and it seemed like there were many people above me and I couldn’t breathe. When the students who were on top of me got up, the police came and beat me on my legs and kept shouting at me to get up and leave.
They gave ma-behan gaali, (sister f***ker and mother f***ker) and said, “randi ki aulad, ja nikal!” (get out of here you child of a whore!). I sat on the road, friends gave me some water. We were just five girls and one boy (Shaheen) and about 10-15 Police behind us.
They kept shouting at Shaheen and saying ‘kheencho aur maaro’ (grab and beat him). He had a press card because he works with an online media portal and tried to show it to the Police but it was no use. They kept on shouting “pull him and beat him”.
For nearly 5-6 minutes, they kept beating him with their lathis. We girls jumped on him and dared the police to beat us and stop beating him. Shaheen was bleeding, Ladeeda was having an asthma attack. We tried to look for some transport to take them but no one stopped their car. I don’t blame them but the situation was like that. One auto finally agreed to take them to Holy Family Hospital.
Three of them went ahead in that auto – Ladeeda, Shaheen and one girl. Three of us also tried to get back in an auto but we were stopped at Jullena and couldn’t go further because of the barricades. It was 5:30 pm but there was no one on the road. The police then threatened us, “go fast, or else…”
We said don’t threaten – there were those without police uniform in that group. We then walked to Holy Family Hospital. We got treatment for our injuries in the hospital, but MLC [medico legal case examination] was not done. And they didn’t do for others also, I think. By then we got the news that the Police was in the campus and was beating up the students.
On campus, we heard that the police had entered the boys’ hostel, library, bathrooms, etc. They used tear gas, beat students with lathis and took away their phones. Those who were beaten were just left there. On the first floor in the library, students rushed in trying to escape the Police.
Chanda Yadav with Akhtarista, others after Dec 15 attack
They locked themselves in and switched off their phones. The police came there and barged into the library and asked all those who were there to raise their hands over their heads and to come out. One of my friends had a bleeding hand which she had to raise above her head and walk out.
So many students ran to the campus thinking that it was safe. The police abused them “Jinnah ke dalal (Jinnah’s agents), go to Pakistan” and the police entered and even broke bathroom doors. They entered the girls' reading hall, switched off bathroom lights. The police even went into the masjid – over there they caught a boy and beat him very badly.
The police actually cannot enter without the permission of the Vice Chancellor (VC). Many students were injured – so many were injured but they are scared to come forward as they think that they may not get their degrees. That night from about 9:30 pm onwards professors came and took students from Holy Family Hospital and Al Shifa Hospital to their respective homes. I also got home. A professor took us home. They were quite helpful. I did not sleep on the 15th.
I think I finally slept at 6:00 am on the 16th. At 10:00 am I woke up suddenly feeling very scared and went to a friend’s house. My mother says come home, you have nothing to do with this, don’t be in the forefront, stay back, girls should not be getting involved in all these things. You know how it is – my family is very conservative, patriarchal.
I come from Chandoli district in Uttar Pradesh, from a small village there. I am the first girl in my village to go to a University. I understand how they think but I cannot remain distant. This will affect the girls a lot – it is not easy for them to come to University, they have to negotiate with their families and then something like this will only make it more difficult.
They are my friends, and this is my university. The CAA and NRC are unconstitutional whether you are a Hindu or Muslim or someone else.They have to negotiate with their families and then something like this will only make it more difficult.”
December 16: We had a peaceful protest on campus with our hands on our mouth from 7:00 pm till late. Some boys were taken to Okhla and some boys (non-students) have been taken today. At 11:00 AM there was a force of police opposite Holy Family Hospital. Police is strictly checking Aadhar card in the area.
Now, the University is closed till January 6th – the reason provided is “winter vacation”. I had received the message on WhatsApp. But how can this be when I still have two papers remaining – I am a 3rd year Hindi Honours student. I am worried about this – I have to start planning for my future studies and don’t have many months left, but I haven’t been able to complete two papers.
On December 19, there is call for the protest – whoever is here will join. I will be there. In Jamia, we will continue the protest and they will be peaceful protests. Till CAA is not taken down we will continue to protest.
First published in Counterview.
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