Trying to save face, the Delhi police has used self-effacing words to justify their role on the raid that they conducted on the students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI) on December 15.
In the first chargesheet the police filed in court last week, it said, “In order to safeguard students and to identify the violent protestors and to keep them out of the campus, tear gas shells and moderate force was used to disperse and push back this assembly (sic).”
It adds, “Small component of police force also had entered into the campus and managed to vacate the campus off the unruly mob. During stone pelting and stampede, some students sustained injuries who were immediately sent to hospital for medical aid.”
The chargesheet has been filed under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public servant), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant) and 427 (mischief causing damage) of the Indian Penal Code.
Also, the information in the first chargesheet suggests that the police haven’t found any actionable evidence against any student of JMI. Three JMI students have been named in the chargesheet but haven’t been arrested yet.
The chargesheet names a total of 18 people, 17 from the neighbourhood and the remaining 18th person being Sharjeel Imam who the police has described as an “instigator” based on the statement of a witness who was allegedly provoked by Sharjeel’s speeches. Sharjeel is also facing charges of sedition in another matter.
In a bid to justify the police excesses, the chargesheet also stated, “Different groups entered the campus and started pelting stones on the police force from three sides. The police kept on warning the protesters to disperse peacefully but they were adamant and kept on pelting stones from inside the campus. The same is visible on CCTV and media photos.”
Hinting at their altruism they wrote, “The rioting mob was repeatedly warned that stone-pelting endangers the life and property of students inside and all demonstrators should vacate the campus peacefully.”
The police is set to file a supplementary chargesheet. The first chargesheet reads, “Further investigation is proceeding. The role of the leaders, including student leaders who instigated, is being established. Supplementary chargesheet will be filed.”
While the police had kept mum about its role in the violence on the fated day, things blew over after the Jamia Coordination Committee released a video showing the police entering the library and indiscriminately beating up the students. Two videos were released subsequently by the police in which it said it could be seen that the students had stones in their hands. However, the police has maintained its stand saying that the video showing them charging students does not prove the innocence of those present in the library at the time.
Mohammed Minhajuddin and Mohammed Mustafa were grievously injured during the assault by the police. Minhajuddin lost an eye to the police excesses that had taken place that day. Mustafa was mercilessly beaten; both his hands were severely fractured and his body was covered in bruises.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had met with the students who were part of the police excesses that fateful night. Shayaan Mujeeb whose legs were injured in the violence has demanded a Rs. 2 crore compensation for his treatment and future medical expenses.
On Wednesday, more than 90 students and staff members filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking an independent intervention in the matter. They did so against an interim order of the Delhi High Court where it refused to direct the police to register FIRs against the police personnel who entered the JMI campus on December 15, 2019.
Their petition reads, “All the 93 complaints made to the police are lying with Delhi police, who are refusing to register FIR/FIRs.” They have called the ongoing investigation of the Delhi HC “biased” stating that it is only based on the FIR filed by the police on the students.
The Delhi police claims it had entered the campus to “safeguard” students. But how can the statements of the students be disregarded in this case, especially when there is video evidence of the brutality? Also, how can it justify its action by claiming that there were suspected rioters in the campus? Without following protocol, the police fired tear gas shells and charged students with batons without isolating the alleged rioters. How can they not be held culpable for this?
While the police is trying to portray itself to be holier-than-thou and trying to deny even the presence of evidence, will the Court take matters into its hands and grant justice to the wronged?
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