On 15 December 2019, police entered the campuses of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), used tear gas shells, and lathicharged protesters and students, leaving many injured. While many suffered multiple fracture, one person suffered loss of vision in in one eye and another, an amputation.
The Quint spoke to three students — two from Jamia and one from AMU — about the events of 15 December and how it changed their lives.
Mohd Minhajuddin, a 26-year-old LLM student in Jamia, was studying in the university’s central library that day. The UPSC aspirant would spend his weekdays at the court and weekends in the Jamia library. At 5:45 pm, students heard a knock. Out of fear, they didn’t open the door.
“Few moments later, police forced their way in and started beating us up,” Minhajuddin told The Quint.
One of the policemen struck his left eye with a baton, damaging it. Since then, he has not been able to see through this eye.
Doctors at AIIMS who treated him have given up hope on vision returning to his injured eye. They are now focusing on his right eye as injury to one eye leave the other vulnerable to infection.
“When one eye gets affected, there are chances of the infection spreading. That’s why the doctors at AIIMS said that they are focusing on the other eye. So that infection doesn’t spread and it doesn’t get affected.”Mohd Minhajuddin, LLM Student, JMI
Minhajuddin has been advised bed rest to avoid exposure to dust, and to put different types of eyedrops to prevent any infection in his right eye. But it has been hard on him and his family to accept his condition. Speaking to The Quint, his mother said:
“He had a routine – work during the day and study at night. Look at his back. It’s full of sores. It’s because of the bed rest. He has nightmares that make him scream. Maybe he gets reminded of that day...how these kids got beat up and all that happened to them. When he screams, all the family members wake up and then hold him tightly. He screams in his sleep. When we ask him he says he doesn’t remember. Sometimes, he cries. We can hear him cry loudly. Some nights he can’t sleep. He is just up by himself. Could be anxiety or restlessness.”Hasmat Nasreen, Minhajuddin’s Mother
The family has been paying for all of Minhajuddin’s medical expenses. Although, Jamia admin has promised reimbursements. But that is not a concern; Minhajuddin’s future is. His family has only one demand that he gets a job as compensation.
Meanwhile, Minhajuddin seeks to see other doctors for his injured eye in the hopes of getting his vision back.
Injured Students Battle Fear and Depression
Mustafa, MA Social Exclusion student from Jamia, was also in the library on 15 December. He was preparing for his UPSC exams, which were due in 2020. When the police started lathicharging, in an attempt to save his head, Mustafa ended up getting both his arms broken. When The Quint met him, he was wearing casts on each arm.
Hailing from West Champaran in Bihar, son of an agrarian family and a single mother, Mustafa came to Delhi for better education and opportunities. The fractures on both his arms have rendered him dependent on other people for the smallest of tasks, like eating and answering phones. The most worrying thing for him right now is that he won’t be able to sit for this year’s UPSC exams.
“When the police came, they first knocked. Around 5:45 pm, they knocked. None of us opened the door as we were very scared. So, they forced their way in. Now, whenever I hear the sound [of knocking], I get startled. It reminds me of that incident and of the police. I am scared to be alone. I live with a friend.”Mustafa, JMI Student
AMU’s Mohd Tariq, a PhD scholar and a JRF fellow in AMU, was his family’s only hope for a life out of poverty. On 15 December, his right hand suffered a fracture and his right palm was damaged from a stun grenade, leading to an amputation.
Tariq has been in a lot of pain as recently, skin was taken from his stomach and used to graft over his injured palm. Doctors have put him on heavy painkillers and kept him under observation for another month.
Unlike Jamia’s Minhajuddin, Tariq was offered a contractual job of a teaching position at AMU. But it was condemned by students as ‘appeasement’.
“AMU has offered him a contractual job of a teaching position. As of now, Tariq hasn’t responded to the offer. But it has been condemned by students, calling it appeasement, as the contract offered would expire after three months.”Mohd Arsalan, AMU student
Students Demand FIR and Compensation
So far, no FIR has been filed against police brutality in Jamia and AMU. Students of AMU have been protesting in demand of the resignation of the VC, registrar and proctor for granting permission to the UP police and RAF to enter campus on 15 December.