Police have fired tear gas and struck demonstrators with batons in India as thousands have protested against a new law that provides citizenship to non-Muslims fleeing religious persecution from numerous neighbouring countries.
The third day of what was said to be a peaceful demonstration against the law, passed by India’s parliament and descended into chaos in New Delhi on Sunday 15th December 2019.
According to police officials, three buses were set on fire,
Police official Chinmoy Biswal stated that six police personnel were injured in the melee.
Student organisers blamed outsiders for the violence.
“We have time and again maintained that our protests are peaceful and non-violent,” they said in a statement.
“We stand by this approach and condemn any party involved in the violence.”
Demonstrators fear that an influx of foreigners will dilute native Assamese people’s political sway and culture.
More than five people have been killed in ongoing protests, regarding the law that grants citizenship based on religion.
At Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, where slogans such as “#SecularIndia” were daubed on buildings, many students told Press that police had fired tear gas inside the university’s library and beat up protesters before sealing all campus gates.
Student Tufail Ahmad said: “We were treated like criminals. Scores were injured, and I escaped from the campus to save my life.”
Outside the campus, around Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, a predominantly Muslim area, was deserted with houses and shops latched tight after the violent protests.
A video footage was released, which showed a trail of stones being thrown at police.
Videos shared with the press show students streaming past a police perimeter that surrounded the campus. The video showed scenes of chaos in the university library with police firing tear gas and students huddled under tables and locked inside bathrooms.
Waseem Ahmed Khan, an official of Jamia Millia Islamia University, said: “Police have entered the campus by force, no permission was given.”
“Our staff and students are being beaten up and forced to leave the campus.”
Injured students were taken to nearby hospitals, including Holy Family, where 26 students were treated, according to Father George, the hospital’s spokesman.
Mujeeb Raza, a student who was being treated at the nearby Al-Shifa hospital, said: “The police beat me mercilessly after pinning me down to the ground.”
“My other friends weren’t spared, either.”