Protestors torched four public buses and two police vehicles as they clashed with police in New Friends' Colony near Jamia Millia Islamia during a demonstration against the amended Citizenship Act on Sunday, leaving nearly 60 people including students, cops and firefighters injured. Police used batons and teargas shells to disperse the violent mob but denied firing at them. However, videos of purported police firing, injured students in the university bathroom as well as footage of them bleeding emerged on social media.
But Delhi Police refuted reports of any casualty during the clashes.
Following the arson on roads, police entered the Jamia university campus, where tension prevailed as
several persons were detained for alleged involvement in the violence.
A Jamia students' body claimed they had nothing to do with the arson and "certain elements" had joined the during the protest and "disrupted" it. They also accused the police of high-handedness.
Students said many of their mates had to hide at the university library, where, they alleged, police entered and attacked them. The police were even seen escorting students outside the campus with their hands in the air.
Later in the evening, Jawaharlal Nehru University students held a protest outside the Police Headquarters in central Delhi against the police action at Jamia University and the standoff continued till late in the night.
Soon after the violence,
Jamia Millia Islamia Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmed Khan claimed that the Delhi Police entered the campus without permission and beat up staff members and students.
Condemning the police action, university Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar said students who were inside the library have been moved out and they are safe. Police said they entered the university campus only to control the volatile situation.
As many as 50 students, who were detained during protests at the Jamia Millia Islamia University on Sunday, were released in the early hours of Monday, police said. Of the 50 students, 35 were released from the Kalkaji police station and 15 from the New Friends Colony police station, a senior police officer said.
Violence, arson in south Delhi
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southeast) Chinmoy Biswal said the protesters, numbering around 1,500, had gathered near New Friends' Colony and blocked the road. They refused to clear the area and when police tried to push them back, some of them indulged in arson around 3.30 PM.
Four buses and two police vehicles were torched and six police personnel and two firemen were injured, he said, adding some protestors had come prepared for arson.
Stones were pelted from inside the university campus and some people have been detained, he added but did not give details. At least 60 injured people were taken to hospital for treatment, sources said.
A DTC bus set on fire following protests against the passage of Citizenship Amendment Act near Mathura Road, in New Delhi, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (PTI Photo/Atul Yadav)
Father George PA, director of Holy Family Hospital, said, "We received university students and also police personnel. Most of them have been discharged now." He said three-four persons, including two police personnel, were admitted to the hospital.
"They got injuries on the head, maybe due to stone-pelting. None of them is critical. We are taking care of them," he said.
An eyewitness claimed that protestors took out petrol from a motorcycle and torched the vehicles. Some protesters, however, claimed police baton-charged them and used teargas shells when they were holding protest peacefully and the situation spiralled from there.
A Delhi Fire Services official said four fire-tenders were rushed to the spot. One of the buses was completely damaged, he said. Plumes of smoke billowed out of the torched buses.
The protest was being held against the contentious law which seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslims religious minorities from three neighbouring countries who arrived in India to escape religious persecution.
According to Saimon Farooqui, the national secretary of Congress-affiliated National Students' Union of India, the protesters were sitting peacefully on Mathura Road when policemen tried to "trouble" a couple of protesters, who resisted.
Thereafter, the police lathi-charged the protesters and used teargas, he alleged. The clash disrupted traffic in the area with several vehicles stranded on roads for hours.
Meanwhile, Jamia Teachers' Association appealed to the students to keep away from such "direction-less" protest led by "local political leaders". Jamia students have been protesting against the legislation. However, on Saturday evening, they had called off their university lockdown and declared they would hold a peaceful protest.
After the violence this afternoon, a Jamia students' body issued a statement, saying, "We have time and again maintained that our protests are peaceful and nonviolent. We stand by this approach and condemn any party involved in the violence.
"We have maintained calm even when students have been lathi-charged and some women protestors badly were beaten up. Violence by certain elements is an attempt to vilify and discredit genuine protests," the statement said.
Sources said the police entered the campus while chasing some "outsiders" who had indulged in vandalism and were trying to hide on the premises. But the university chief proctor said, "Police entered the campus by force, no permission was taken. Staff members and students were beaten up and forced to leave the campus."
The vice-chancellor said university students were not involved in the violent protest.
"In the evening, when the agitation started, my students had not given a call for it," she told PTI. "...which university can have such a huge crowd. At least not my university. It was a Sunday and we had already declared winter vacation on Saturday so half of the students had already gone home," she said.
Protest at Delhi Police HQ
Hundreds of students reached the old Delhi Police headquarters at ITO late Sunday night to take part in an "emergency" protest against the police action at Jamia Millia University. The protesters raised anti-police slogans and demanded action against officials who entered the university.
New Delhi: Students and other protest against the police action against students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University. at PHQ in New Delhi, Sunday night, Dec. 15, 2019. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)
Students from Jamia, Ambedkar University and others joined the protest called by the JNU Students' Union. Protesters blocked all roads leading to the police headquarters. Barricades were put up as the mass of protesters swelled.
CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat also reached the spot and condemned the police action.
A protesting Jawaharlal Nehru University student said, "We have come here to support the protesting students who have been attacked by the police. We want the police to leave the campus as soon as possible".
Brinda Karat alleged that the entry of police in the university had the blessings of Home Minister Amit Shah.
"Where is the police commissioner? Where is Amit Shah, obviously he has given permission to the police to enter the campus," she alleged.
AAP, BJP trade blames
As tension prevailed in the area, the city government announced the closure of all schools in southeast Delhi. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said any kind of violence is unacceptable and protests should remain peaceful.
"No one shud indulge in violence. Any kind of violence is unacceptable. Protests shud remain peaceful," he tweeted.
BJP Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari, in a tweet, said that an AAP MLA was "provoking" the public and called Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal a "traitor".
"An AAP MLA is provoking people at the behest of Arvind Kejriwal. The Muslims of the country are with India and are not going to be influenced by traitors like you. Stop provoking people," he tweeted in Hindi.
However, Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan, who was accused by the BJP of fuelling the violence denied the accusations. Police too said they had no found any role of the AAP MLA in the incident.
Restrictions in Delhi
The Delhi Traffic Police said that vehicular movement was closed from Okhla Underpass to Sarita Vihar due to the agitation. Vehicles coming from Badarpur and Ashram Chowk were diverted to alternative routes due to blockade.
According to an eyewitness, protestors broke glasses of a cluster bus carrying passengers and set it on fire. However, no one was injured.The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation closed entry and exit gates of 13 stations including the nearby Sukhdev Vihar due to the violent protest. Several states in the northeast and West Bengal have been rocked by violent protests over the Act.