NEW DELHI—On Sunday night, as word spread about the violence at the Jamia Millia Islamia university and the neighbouring New Friends Colony, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan found himself constantly moving between police stations and hospitals as the injured students were kept under detention at either of the two places.
Battling accusations from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party earlier in the day that he had instigated students and local residents through his speeches to commit violence, the AAP MLA was among the handful group of people who were allowed access to the students by the Delhi police which was otherwise hesitant to even let lawyers meet the students.
Speaking with HuffPost India a few minutes after this high drama had subsided early on Monday morning when the students were brought from the Kalkaji Police station to the Apollo Hospital for a medical examination, the Okhla MLA said, “The way in which the police entered the university premises, attacked boys and girls studying there, is wrong. It cannot be tolerated. There should be a judicial inquiry into this, And whoever is faulty should be revealed.”
Responding to the BJP’s accusation that he instigated the violence, Khan asked, “I was not there, I was at another spot where there was a protest. The people from Jamia Nagar were also there. But who was there (at the spot where violence occurred)?”And answered it himself, “I think their (BJP) own people did it. They entered the university and made things the way they turned out to be.”
The MLA from Okhla constituency, where the Jamia Millia Islamia University is located, also accused the Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) officers of making communal remarks against Muslim students. “The CRPF soldiers also behaved roughly with them. Apart from beating them up, they also told the students, “Modi is doing right. Why are you protesting?” They beat up those students relatively more, who had a beard. They also beat up a Maulana,” he claimed.
Edited excerpts from an interview:
What is the status right now?
There are 33 students here. Everyone is being treated here. There is serious injury. Some fractured their hand, while some their leg. About 10 or 12 are seriously injured. Lathis have been hit brutally. There are wounds on everyone. No student is without any wound; some have more, others less. So we are categorising; whether to admit the ones who have more wounds or conduct an X-ray or CTC Scan. So all that is being done.
Of the 35 students who were in the Kalkaji Police station, 2 were sent to the AIIMS Trauma Centre. Of these, one eye of one of the students has permanently lost vision. Which is very disappointing. This is what I have been told. Of the 16 students who were in the New Friends Colony police station and were subsequently taken to the AIIMS Trauma Centre, all have been released. All students who were detained have been released. There is no case registered against them.
When did you first hear about the students being arrested?
I was protesting at Shaheen Bagh. At around 4:30-5, I found out that there had been lathi charge, stone pelting and burning of public property. Then videos started coming of the police pelting stones, firing (rubber) bullets etc. So they did do things.
The police entered campus without getting permission from the Proctor, entered the girls hostel, beat up girl students, lady teachers, attacked students in the library. Entering without permission of the campus administration is wrong.
To be sure, no lady student has been arrested right?
No lady student has been arrested. 35 and 16 students were separately detained. We have got all of them released. 16 of them were being treated at AIIMS and 33 are here while the remaining 2 are in Trauma centre.
So the total count was 52 students?
No, the 35 taken to Kalkaji Police station and 16 to the New Friends Colony Police station. So that brings the count to 51.
They have also entered the Jama Masjid in Jamia, there has been violence there as well, just as it was in the girls hostel and the library.
The Police have said that they entered campus because miscreants did and they were just following them.
Students are themselves telling us that the CRPF hit them saying, “What Modi is doing is right.” They are also saying that some were beaten up by looking at their beards, or because they were Muslim. This is a conspiracy of Amit Shah. This movement was stopped after it came to the Aligarh Muslim University and the Jamia Millia Islamia university. They wanted this to happen. It was happening in Guwahati; after finishing it there, they did lathi charge in Jamia and Aligarh.
But the BJP accused you of instigating violence by giving provocative speeches.
That was their intention and line. To somehow link it to me.
So you deny those accusations.
I was not there, I was at another spot where there was a protest. The people from Jamia Nagar were also there. But who was there (at the spot where violence occurred)? I think there their (BJP) own people did it. They entered the university and made things the way they turned out to be.
What time did you first talk to the police and what was that about?
I did not talk to the police during this time. When I visited the New Friends Colony Police Station in the night at around 1: 30, the Police Commissioner and Special Commissioner were present. There was a conversation with them and I told them to release the students. They assured me that the students will be released in two hours, and they did release them.
“The CRPF soldiers also behaved roughly with them. Apart from beating them up, they also told the students, “Modi is doing right. Why are you protesting?””
You went to the Kalkaji Police station first…(interrupted)
I first went to the Kalkaji Police station. Met the students there. They were seated on the floor, so got them a better sitting arrangement, brought them food, took two more seriously injured to the Apollo hospital to get them treated.
So why did you go to Kalkaji first, is it because you had some specific information or (interrupted)
I had been told that all students were detained at Kalkaji. I received a call from one of the students that they were being taken to the Kalkaji Police station. So I reached there. It was there that I found out that some students were being kept at the New Friends Colony Police Station as well. So I took the seriously injured students first to the Apollo hospital, got them admitted here and then went to the New Friends Colony Police station where the Special Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner of Police and entire administration was present.
What were the injuries suffered by the two students who were seriously injured and what is their status now? Did the police take care of students with serious injuries?
See, not just the two, all of these students are seriously injured but none of them has been looked after. After coming here you can see for yourself how someone has an injury in the head or leg. So if they had to take care of them, they would have admitted them at that time itself. But now it is becoming clear that some couldn’t walk, some fractured their bones, The police didn’t do anything.
The police are denying it attacked students, only miscreants were.
Look, there are photos, videos, MLCs; so who hit them (the students) this way?
Who were the two students you took to the hospital first, many hours ago, urgently from the Kalkaji police station?
One was Ehtesham and the other was Chandan. Ehtesham had an injury in his head, Chandan had pain in his chest. He had trouble breathing. The hospital discharged him once but he was brought again a second time. He has been admitted now. His health is not good. Chandan is fine.
Who lost his eye?
He is another boy, He is in the trauma centre.
“The way in which police entered the university premises, attacked boys and girls studying there, is wrong. It cannot be tolerated. There should be a judicial inquiry into this, and whoever is faulty should be revealed.”
There has been a demand for initiating a judicial inquiry to probe this violence. Do you support it?
See, there should be a judicial inquiry. The way in which police entered the university premises, attacked boys and girls studying there, is wrong. It cannot be tolerated. There should be a judicial inquiry into this, and whoever is faulty should be revealed.
When the police detained students, it didn’t seem like it wanted to release them so soon. Certainly not all of them. So why did it do so without any arrests or imposition of any charges?
So we had told them, “please calm this down. This is the matter of a student’s life. They are not guilty so they shouldn’t be charged or locked away,” An investigation was done about them, they were not present at the violent protest so they were released.
Was there any political pressure behind letting the students go?
Yes, of course there was political pressure. And they were innocent as well. Their involvement was not in the violence.
How was this explained to the police?
CCTV footage was there to prove their innocence, the university administration and I also said so.
So why did they pick these students up?
The CRPF was inside the campus premises so just picked them up. The CRPF soldiers also behaved roughly with them. Apart from beating them up, they also told the students, “Modi is doing right. Why are you protesting?” They beat up those students relatively more, who had a beard. They also beat up a Maulana.