When Tariq qualified for the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and enrolled for a PhD in Physical Chemistry at the Aligarh Muslim University this year, little did he and his family know the future that was in store for him.
On the evening of December 15 when the Delhi police fired tear gas shells and stun grenades at a crowd of people protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at the varsity gate, one of them landed on Tariq’s right hand, leaving behind a stump in its place.
Out of the six siblings, Tariq was the only one still pursuing higher education. He has just started receiving a monthly stipend as part of his research. His brothers are school dropouts, two of his sisters are married and one is studying. His father and brothers work as daily wage labourers.
He was his family’s hope out of poverty and his mother, who doesn’t know much about the violence that left him scarred for life, still thinks he has a fracture.
The Times of India spoke to Tariq as he lay in a hospital bed, still trying to come to terms with his loss. After composing himself, he told TOI, “I was just passing by after meeting a friend. Not that I support CAA, but I wasn’t part of any protests. I remember a crowd running towards me and then a sudden, sharp pain shot up my arm. I blanked out after that.”
Reticently glancing at his bandaged arm he said, “This seems like the end of my long hours at the lab. I will never be able to do another experiment. I have been handicapped and I don’t know what I will do with my life now.”
Tariq who continued giving tuitions even after enrolling for BSc at AMU in 2013, had put up at a friend’s place as he couldn’t afford hostel rent. “Life was just starting to get better,” he said. Tariq was supposed to start getting a stipend of over Rs. 35,000 from January next year. “The money would help my family financially. My father would not have to work in his old age. But my dreams of giving my poor family a better life are gone”, he said.
Mohd. Arif, his elder brother said that though the family was distraught they couldn’t do much else apart from regretting the incident.
Just like Tariq’s teachers, who described him as an industrious students, Tariq’s friends too couldn’t believe what had happened to him.
“Tariq’s life has been full of struggles and they just don’t seem to end,” said Mohd Arshad, Tariq’s childhood friend and college mate.
AMU Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor who recently visited Tariq and those others hurt due to the police violence at AMU said that it would be ensured that Tariq get the best possible medical treatment, if even he needed to be sent out of the country for the same.
On the night of December 15, after the attacks by the police on the students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMIU), students at the AMU came out in solidarity to condemn these attacks and join the anti-CAA protests. Quil Foundation who authored a fact-finding report of the incident said that the police, supported by the Rapid Action Force (RAF), started abusing the students, moving to deceptive tear gas shelling (the shells would blow up after students picked them up), firing rubber bullets and throwing stun grenades. The police later moved through the campus, dragging out students, beating up guards and resorting to lathi charge; beating students on their head. Some kids lost their fingers too, trying to move away tear gas shells that were fired at them.
Yet, no action has been taken against the police and instead, the police has filed reports against the students.
Nobody knows how Tariq is going to bear the cost of treatment. Even if the state ends up paying for Tariq’s treatment and the treatment of other students injured due to police excesses, how will they compensate for the future loss of livelihood and the loss of trust that the students have borne?
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