New Delhi: The national capital on Sunday turned into a war zone as protests against the contentious Citizenship Law intensified, with Delhi police clashing with the students of Jamia Millia Islamia University and using batons and tear gas on them to quell the unrest. At least 35 students are known to be injured in the violent stir that rocked the university.
The Police reportedly attacked students of Jamia University who are known to be protesting peacefully against the Citizenship Law. Jamia students were not involved in the brawl, the varsity union promptly announced.
Later, the University’s Proctor also said that the police entered the varsity “by force” as no permission was granted to them, adding that “the staff and students were beaten up”.
However, Delhi Police gave a clarification saying that they were doing their duty to bring normalcy int the campus. “Our only interest is to push the mob back, so law and order can be restored in the area. We have no problem with university (Jamia Millia Islamia University) students,” Chinmoy Biswal, DCP South East, was quoted as saying by ANI.
Further, at least three Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses were set ablaze by protesters near Bharat Nagar. Two fire officials were also injured during stone-pelting, crippling parts of south Delhi.
Also, a journalist from BBC said that she was harassed by the police while she was covering the protest at Jamia University. “I came here for BBC’s coverage, they (police) took away my phone, broke it. A male police personnel pulled my hair. They hit me with a baton & when I asked them for my phone they hurled abuses at me. I didn’t come here for fun, I came here for coverage,” Bushra Sheikh told ANI.
According to reports, JNU students have called for an overnight stir outside Police headquarters at ITO. A massive gathering of student protesters could be seen, raising their voice against the police crackdown on the Jamia students.
Metro Services Disrupted
Entry and exit gates at over 11 metro stations were shut by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Sunday as a precautionary measure amid protests over the citizenship law.
All gates of Vasant Vihar, Munirka, RK Puram, Sukhdev Vihar, Jamia Millia Islamia, Okhla Vihar, Jasola Vihar Shaheen Bagh, Patel Chowk, Vishwavidyalaya, GTB Nagar and Shivaji Stadium, were closed. DMRC also said that the Gate 3 of Ashram metro station was being closed.
Entry and exit gates of ITO, IIT, Delhi Gate and Pragati Maidan were also shut.
The decision was taken on the advice of the Delhi Police, said the DMRC.
Schools in Southeast Delhi shut
The Delhi government announced that schools and colleges in Okhla, Jamia, New Friends Colony and Madanpur Khadar area will remain shut on Monday, in view of the anti-Citizenship Act protests in the area.
“All schools to stay closed in Okhla, Jamia and New Friends Colony and Madanpur Khadar area of Delhi,” Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia said.
Standoff at Aligarh Muslim University
Before a standoff between police and students at Jamia Milia Islamia campus could calm down over the Citizenship Amendment Act, another one of a similar kind broke out between police and protesting students in Aligarh Muslim University on Sunday.
As per reports, police fired tear gas shells at protesters outside the AMU campus after dissenters pelted stones at them. The protest took a violent turn when police tried to pacify the agitating students on the campus. The students at the AMU mounted a violent protest against the police crackdown on students in Jamia Milia in Delhi.
Further, AMU has been closed till January 5.
Also, the internet has been suspended in Aligarh from 10 pm Saturday to 10 pm Monday.
BJP, AAP Trade Barbs
Delhi’s Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, referred to a video where a cop is seen carrying a container, to allege, “BJP is setting fire in Delhi out of fear of defeat in elections. The AAP is against violence of any kind. This is cheap politics of BJP. In this video, see how the fire is being set under the protection of the police.”
In another tweet, Sisodia posted a screenshot of the earlier video, which did not substantiate anything apart from a cop is seen carrying a container. He tweeted: “See this photo .. See who is setting buses and cars on fire… This photo is the biggest proof of the BJP’s poor politics… Will BJP leaders give some answers to this?”
The AAP leader demanded an “independent inquiry” to find out the real culprits. But in the same breath, he labelled BJP and its “pathetic politics” to be behind it.
BJP too didn’t lose time to hit back. Party’s vice President Bijayant Jay Panda cited Sunday’s violence as reason for bringing in NRC and Citizenship Amendment Act. “The vandalism & arson by “protestors” should make it clear to anyone who still have doubts why #CitizenshipAmendmentAct & #NRC are needed,” he said.
He further added, “These people are far from being the concerned citizens they claim to be. They are anarchists to whom neither Constitution nor citizenship is sacrosanct.”
Giving a twist to the controversy, certain media reports suggested that AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan was present at the protest site. Delhi BJP leader said the violence was his handiwork, by asking, “Arvind Kejriwal, can you explain to citizens of Delhi why was AAP MLA present at the violent protest?”
BJP’s Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari alleged that Arvind Kejriwal used his party MLA to “instigate” people.
West Bengal on edge
A group of anti-Citizenship Act agitators turned violent and attacked the railway properties at a station in the southern suburb of the West Bengal capital on Sunday. Five policemen, including a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and the inspector-in-charge of Maheshtala police station, were injured in the violence.
The police had to lob tear gas shells and resort to baton charge to disperse the mob and bring the situation under control.
2 more deaths from Assam
Two more deaths were on Sunday reported in Guwahati. With the latest two deaths, the total toll in the protests has gone up to four now. The two protesters were said to have died in police firing during the agitation.
On Friday, two people had died in police firing in Guwahati. As per updates, nearly 26 people had received bullet injuries during the demonstrations. The injured are, however, undergoing treatment at different hospitals.
(With IANS inputs)