New Delhi police have released all those unfairly detained in a raid on Jamia Millia Islamia campus, where officers had rounded up a violent mob that had torched vehicles and pelted stones at a march over a new citizenship law.
An agitated crowd of protesters gathered outside a police station in the capital New Delhi on Sunday night, demanding that authorities immediately release students of the Muslim university, who had been detained earlier in the day. By roughly 3:30am local time, the crowd had gradually dispersed after police said they had released everyone who wasn’t charged.
The university accused riot police of raiding its campus illegally, using tear gas, and brutally abusing students and staff. More than two dozen people, including several policemen, were injured in clashes.
Students insist their protest was non-violent and claim that police entered the college and indiscriminately fired tear gas. Videos shared on social media show chaos in the university’s buildings, as the sound of smashing glass and what seem to be riot control weapon shots can be heard.
While they technically should have sought university permission first, authorities argue that the officers were actively chasing a violent mob that had taken refuge on the open campus. “We only acted to control the situation after violence,” senior police officer Chinmaya Biswal told ANI.
We have no problem with university students… Our only interest is to push the mob back, so law and order can be restored in the area
The university and students themselves meanwhile blamed all the violence and disorder on unidentified locals who joined the “genuinely peaceful” protest in an attempt to “discredit” it. Earlier in the day, a march that started on the university grounds almost immediately turned violent, with a mob pelting stones at police and torching at least three buses and dozens of bikes.
We had to push them back… they started pelting stones and bottles filled with oil…
Authorities admit that they can’t definitively say if it was a mob of students or locals who started the violence. “They were being very, very aggressive and violent and they have been pushed to the Jamia Nagar area from where they originated,” explained Biswal, whose officers are now being accused of using excessive force as activists online are rallying in solidarity with the ‘peaceful protesters.’
The unrest in India was triggered by a bill that fast-tracks citizenship for migrants belonging to religious minorities that fled Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan for India before 2015. The law does not affect the Muslims of India in any way, but critics either unwittingly or intentionally interpreted it as discriminatory, leading to a wave of outrage and unrest.