Nearly 100 students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University, who had been detained by the Delhi Police after a protest march against the citizenship law ended in violence on Sunday evening, have been released. The students were detained after the police, in a crackdown to regain control, entered Jamia without permission from university officials. The police said they were doing what was needed to bring the situation under control.
Hundreds of people who had gathered outside the Delhi Police Headquarters in protest dispersed later after the students were released.
In addition to many students, several policemen including senior officers were injured in the protests, with one of them in ICU with severe head injuries. Two firemen were injured as well and a fire engine was damaged in the protests. The Delhi Metro shut entry and exit gates at over 11 stations as a precautionary measure; they have now been opened. The Delhi government also said schools in Okhla, Jamia and New Friends Colony, as well as the Madanpur Khadar area, would be closed till further notice.
Hours into the violence, Delhi Police were seen rounding up students - one who spoke to NDTV said she had been forcibly taken from a library inside the campus - for detention.
In video footage, students can be seen walking on the pavement of a battle-scarred main road holding their hands above their heads while cops hustled them away.
"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," Waseem Ahmed Khan, Chief Proctor of Jamia, was quoted by news agency ANI.
"(The) situation is under control in Jamia University; it was a violent mob, some of them have been detained. We only acted to control situation after violence," the police said according to PTI.
"Six police personnel were injured" Chinmoy Biswal, Delhi Commissioner of Police (Southeast) was quoted by news agency IANS, adding "some of the protesters had come prepared for violence, so when we tried to stop them on Ring Road, they started the violence".
In a statement released shortly after the violence broke out, the students disassociated themselves from the violence and said they had repeatedly "maintained our protests are peaceful and non-violent.
"We have time and again maintained our protests are peaceful and non-violent. We stand by this approach and condemn any party involved in violence. We have maintained calm even when students have been lathi-charged and some women protestors have been badly beaten up," the statement said, adding that violence "by certain elements" was an attempt to vilify and discredit genuine protests
Earlier, senior officers privately admitted local thugs had hijacked the march, set vehicles ablaze and threw stones when they tried to stop them from marching to Jantar Mantar.
In response to a plea by Jamia Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar, Miran Haider, one of the protesting students, told NDTV most of the protesting students are still inside the campus and would "follow Constitutional paths" to register their protest.
Ms Akhtar, who also spoke to NDTV, has expressed concern over the safety and security of the students and asked those who left the campus to return.
"I appeal to students to keep peace. Everything will be all right but we can't protect students if they leave the campus," Ms Akhtar told NDTV, adding that some members of the public from the main road that divides the university campus into two may have joined the protest.
Jamia Millia Islamia University has been shut till January 6 and exams have been postponed.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has condemned the violence.
No one shud indulge in violence. Any kind of violence is unacceptable. Protests shud remain peaceful. https://t.co/CUiaGLb9YY— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 15, 2019
Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing an election rally in Jharkhand, congratulated the people of Assam for "keeping away from violence". "You can easily make out who is spreading violence by the clothes they wear," he said.
Massive clashes have taken place in the North East over the past few days, where at least four people died and thousands took to the streets despite a curfew and the deployment several columns of the Assam Rifles.
Sunday's clash, which comes a day after hundreds of Jamia students took out a protest march from their campus to Parliament to express opposition to the new citizenship law that was passed by parliament last week. The law makes it easy for non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The violence has also spilled over into West Bengal, where trains were set on fire and roads blocked. Internet services in some districts were suspended on Sunday; according to ANI it has been suspended for a 48-hour period in Malda district
With input from ANI, PTI, IANS