Fake news made AMU students restive, police aggressive
Protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) had been peacefully continuing in the Aligarh Muslim University till the evening of December 15 when news about violence in Jamia Millia Islamia trickled in through the social media.
In between visuals of violence, a fake news about the death of two Jamia students pulled the trigger and AMU students began to gather in large numbers at the Bab-e-Sayed Gate of the university at around 8 p.m.
Instead of allaying their fears and verifying facts, the AMU authorities called the police and all hell broke loose.
The students became restive and the police became increasingly aggressive.
AMU Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor justified his decision to call the police after stones were thrown at the police stationed outside though it is still not known whether it were the students or outsiders who began it.
In a letter dated December 17 addressed to the students, parents, teachers and the Aligarh community, he had said, "Taking advantage of this sensitive situation, anti-social/lumpen elements (including expelled ex-students) intermingled with students, and forcibly broke open the Bab-e-Syed gate.
"After crossing the university boundary, they resorted to stone pelting on the police outside the campus. This mob, running into thousands, posed imminent danger to the life of students and the property of the university. Forced with this grave situation, the university administration was left with no other choice but to call the police to control the situation."
Eyewitnesses, including students, claim that Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel stormed into the campus "without warning" and lathi charged the students.
Some sought refuge in the Guest House compound nearby while others ran into the hostels.
The police allegedly beat up the security guards at the Morrisons hostel in Aftab Hall and lobbed teargas shells into the students' rooms, forcing them to come out.
Video clips of students being thrown to the ground and kicked, stripped in the cold, being lashed with batons and belts, and taunted with communal slurs are now doing the rounds on the mobile phones of students and faculty members.
Nineteen-year-old Wasim (name changed), a day scholar who had his thumb stitched back, with extensive bruises on his face as well as his left eye, recalled, "I had received a message to gather at the Bab-e-Sayed for a protest against the Jamia incident. When I arrived, I saw the police chasing students with batons and firing tear gas shells.
"Me and my friends hid inside the Guest House compound near the university gate. The police were firing tear gas shells and this other grenade-like thing which bursted into flames with a deafening noise. I was about to pick a shell to throw it into the water to defuse, but the object exploded before that. I fainted."
AMU Registrar Abdul Hamid, who ostensibly gave written permission to call the police into the campus, was clearly not upset over "excessive force" that was used against unarmed students.
He has repeatedly stated that the police had only used stun grenades against the students on that fateful night.
A stun grenade, also known as flash grenade, flash-bang, thunder-flash or sound bomb, is an ostensibly non-lethal explosive device to temporarily disorient senses.
It is designed to produce a blinding flash of light and an intensely loud 'bang' of greater than 170 decibels. It was first used by the British Army's Special Air Service in the late 1970s.
"The stun grenades left us stunned. What was the need to call the police and then unleash violence on us? We were merely protesting in support of the Jamia incident and some students started raising slogans after the news of two deaths came in. There was no violence, so why were the cops called in," asked a student who escaped unhurt in the 'attack', as they call it.IANS