A viral video – purportedly from 15 December, when police besieged the Jamia Millia Islamia campus – shows a student wearing a handkerchief on his face, sitting with a closed book inside the university’s ‘Old Reading Hall’.
The video has been used to allege that those sitting in the library were “rioters and stone-pelters” hiding from police. BJP’s Amit Malviya, in a tweet, pointed that the student in the footage was wearing a ‘mask’, reading from a shut book and “looking anxiously towards the entrance.”
The student in question is Salman Khan, who is doing his PhD from Jamia. Talking to The Quint, he explains why he was wearing a handkerchief on his face.
“I was on the first floor. But there was so much tear gas released by the police downstairs that there was smoke everywhere... I was having a lot of trouble breathing. That’s why I wore a handkerchief on my face.”Salman Khan, PhD student at Jamia Millia Islamia
He points that the police had covered their faces with handkerchiefs as well, because they were also having trouble breathing.
Khan says he was at the library as usual to study for his upcoming engineering paper.
“The green book is for the upcoming non-tech engineering service paper. We were clearly studying from that book. If you watch the entire video, you will know that I was reading on this side first, then I switched to the other side,” he says.
On why students were looking at the entrance, he says that police were breaking open the door with such force that the students were scared and anxious.
Khan denies being involved in the stone pelting against the police.
“I had come to the library at one o'clock. Then I went out to eat lunch and pray. But I was not involved in any ruckus. When the news of tear gas shells and uproar came, we had just gone under our reading room. Then we came back and sat down because we were having trouble breathing outside,” he says.
Salman says his hand was hurt during the police crackdown and he is scared and upset with the allegations against him on social media.