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Peaceful protests, violent reaction

The police attacked university students as if war had been declared on campuses, fueling fear and panic

After the government got the Citizenship Amendment Act passed by Parliament, the whole country erupted in vigorous protests.

It all started with the peaceful protests at Jamia Milia Islamia, conducted by the students, which suddenly became violent, when some buses were burnt outside campus. Protesters claimed that this was the handiwork of outsiders.

However, the same night, Delhi Police broke into the university and caused mayhem all over the campus. They went into the hostels, and library, damaged a lot of university property and also injured more than 200 students. Teargas was used liberally.

This again propelled mass protests all over the country. The next day, mass protests were organised in the city, first at Delhi University, which proceeded towards India Gate later in the day. Thousands of protesters gathered near the monument for protests which went on till 11.30 pm.

On Thursday, December 19, Section 144 was imposed in many parts of the country, including the area in front of the Red Fort where a long protest march was set to be carried out. Many protesters including Yogendra Yadav and Umar Khalid were detained and sent to faraway areas of Bawana to ward off the protests.

Spreading misinformation

A video went viral from Aligarh Muslim University, with claims that protesters at chanted “Hinduon ki kabr khudegi”. This has since been debunked by Alt News, which pointed out that the students in Aligarh were actually raising slogans against Hindutva, Savarkar, the Bharatiya Janata Party, Brahminism, and casteism.

Amit Malviya, who heads the BJP’s national information and technology wing, shared both clips on social media, saying: “If this is the mindset that pervades in these ‘minority’ institutions, imagine the plight of Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.”

However, protesters said the Jamia video has been morphed, and the sloganeering was against “Hindutva”, not “Hindus”.

In the video, a young man raising the slogans can be heard shouting, “Hum leke rahengey azaadi, Amit Shah se, Modi se.” The camera isn’t focused on him when the “Hinduon se azaadi” slogan is raised. Several students told Newslaundry his voice was edited to insert “Hindu” instead of “Hindutva” into the clip. When the video speed is slowed, “Hindutva” can clearly be heard.

Aquib Rizwan, a political science student at Jamia, said the video is “completely fake” and “doctored”. “Our Hindu brothers and sisters study here along with us and are also part of our protest,” he said. “We can never want to divide the nation between Hindus and Muslims. This is pre-planned to divide us on the basis of Hindu-Muslim and divert us from the main objective, which is to protest against the Hindutva Citizenship Amendment Act.”

Referring to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Rizwan added, “Is tarah ke videos sirf ye university ke protest ko badnaam karne k liye nikaali jaa rahi hain. Iske zimmedar wahin hain jinhone 70 saal pehley azaadi ki jung me na hi humara saath diya balki British sarkar se maafi bhi maangi.” Roughly translated, he says: “Such videos are being spread around to defame the protests. The people responsible for this are the same people who bowed down to the British 70 years back.”

Eyewitnesses who spoke to Newslaundry did not confirm the use of anti-Hindu slogans in the protests at Jamia Milia Islamia.

Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, who was present at the protests, also refuted the claims, saying “not a single ‘anti-India’ or communal slogan has been heard.”

Shoaib Pasha, a Jamia student who participated in the protest, told Newslaundry, “Giving this fight a Hindu-Muslim colour is completely derailing the issue. Many of our Hindu brothers and sisters are with us in this fight against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Whoever truly believes in the constitution believes that this Act goes against its very basic tenets. This ‘anti-Hindu’ video of the Jamia protest is clearly the work of the BJP IT cell to delegitimise our protests.”

Students pointed out that on Monday, Hindu students formed a human chain to allow their Muslim peers to offer namaz on a road outside the university. Suyash Tripathi, a law student at Jamia, said, “Jamia is a beautiful example of secularism. We have been protesting in a peaceful manner for the past four days, and non-Muslims like me in hundreds have come and joined our protests. Our participation in these protests are proof of the secular fabric of this nation.”

DU joins the fight

Students of Delhi University came out in support of their peers at Jamia Milia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University who were beaten up and teargassed by the police while protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act on Sunday.

However, the protest turned violent when the students were reportedly attacked by the police, and clashed with members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

The students gathered at Delhi University’s Faculty of Arts building in the morning, under the watch of the police. The students claimed they were protesting peacefully but the police attacked them without provocation. A scuffle then broke out between them and members of the ABVP, who reportedly shouted “terrorists” and “Naxalites” at the protesters.

The clash between the ABVP and the protesters escalated when both groups, standing on either side of a fence, began shouting at each other. The police quickly arranged for buses to take the students out of the university premises and drop them at Civil Lines metro station. “From there, they can go anywhere,” a police officer told Newslaundry.

As the students were moved into the buses, the ABVP members began screaming “terrorist” and “anti-national” at the protesters, who responded with cuss words.

The ABVP, however, claimed that the protesters were not allowing other students to take their examinations. “Some leftists and anti-national people assembled here this morning. They locked down the building,” said Anurag Gautam, the Delhi state social media convener of the ABVP. “They are risking the careers of the students. They are manipulating innocent students.”

According to Gautam, there is “no issue” to protest over. “Our home minister supported the Citizenship Amendment Act. Still, they [the students] ransacked Jamia.”

But didn’t the Delhi police enter Jamia Milia Islamia and assault the students on Sunday evening. “Don’t accuse the police,” Gautam replied. “They are trying to protect us. We should be ashamed that we are holding them responsible.”

He added: “These Bangladeshis and terrorists should be thrown out of our country.”

Nandita Narayan, former president of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association, told Newslaundry: “The issue is getting diverted and ABVP is trying to politicise the issue. Let’s not fall into the trap.”

While the protesters had planned to boycott their examinations to express solidarity with JMI and AMU, most of them sat for their exams, saying Delhi University wasn’t supporting them.

www.newslaundry.com