Disproportionate and extraordinary use of force by police at AMU: Fact-finding team

In the wee hours of Monday morning, three lawyers entered the premises of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). Here is what they found.

Police at AMU

At about 4 AM on Monday, just hours after police and protesters clashed at AMU, three lawyers, Adv Aman Khan (HRLN), Adv Fazal (HRLN) and Adv Fawaz Shaheen (Quill Foundation) entered the university and spoke to students. In a report released on Tuesday they said, “The first sight which greeted us was a massive contingent of armed forces, comprising mainly of RAF but also including local police, spread in large groups right from university circle andBab-e-Syed to chungi gate.” The report adds, “Quite strangely, a small tractor was picking up bikes parked around the university and throwing them onto a truck parked in front of the Maulana Azad Library, on the main university road. (the vehicles belonged to students, which were vandalised by armed forces during their aggravated violence).”

The lawyers spoke to students in their hostel rooms as well as those recovering from injuries at the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hostel. Citing concerns about safety of the students, their names were kept out of the report. The students told the fact-finding team that their protest was peaceful and that the violence was instigated by the police and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) deployed at University Circle.

The report says, “At around 7:30 pm on 15-12-2019 students in AMU started gathering at the Library Canteen to continue their peaceful protest against the CAA. A peaceful procession of students chanting started moving along the university road towards the main gateBab-e-Syed, which is the ordinary spot of protest in the University. A heavy contingent of local police and Rapid Action Force was deployed at the University Circle who started moving towards Bab-e-Syed when they saw the procession at the gate. The heavily armed forces reportedly started abusing students trying to provoke them towards violence. One of the common provocative abuse from armed forces was b“ ahar aao madarch*** ”. At around 8 pm the police and RAF armed forces started firing tear gas shells, rubber bullets, stun grenades, pellets and other kinds of explosive weapons into the crowd inside the gate. According to a few accounts they were even pelting stones at the crowd. The students were pushed back and fearing for their safety, they started hiding in nearby buildings such as Guest house no.2 and 3. The situation did not demand any further intervention as the protest had dispersed and students were hiding in buildings. However, at around 10 PM, the police and armed forces started to break the iron gate of Bab-e-Syed.”

The report that is based entirely on accounts given by students says, “After entering the university gate, armed forces started brutal lathi-charge accompanied with massive amounts of firing of tear gas shells, rubber bullets and pellets.” The students reportedly fled and hid in nearby buildings after this. The police and RAF personnel then reportedly entered these nearby buildings such as Guests Houses 2 and 3, and used tear gas to smoke out the protesters. Tear gas shells reportedly blew up in the hands of protesters who tried to pick them up and throw them away.

The report also talks about the violence inflicted upon inmates of Morrison Court. It says, “The clearest evidence of disproportionate and extraordinary use of force with malafide intent by the police can be found from the incidence that took place at room no. 46 of Morrison Court hostel. The hostel included many students who were not even part of the protests. One crucial notable incident took place in Morrison Court hostel where armed forces forcefully entered by brutally thrashing the gate guard (later admitted) and then firing the tear gases. Shockingly, the armed forces then cut the window fence of Room no. 46, shattered glass window and fired tear gas in the room from point blank range. As a result, room caught fire and the three students who were in the room but not even part of protest came out in semi conscious stage.”

The report says that many students are missing and lists their names. The entire report may be read here:

The advocates conducting the fact finding left the university on Monday evening. Since, then the detained students have been released and the university’s deputy proctor told Sabrang India that only 6 of the 26 people arrested were students of AMU. The large-scale involvement of outsiders from nearby neighbourhoods is suspected in the protests.


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