As of today, 33 lives have been lost to the nationwide protests.
Unmistakable visual evidence has emerged of unwarranted police action on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia on December 15, a few days after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed — widely seen as heralding the indefensible plan to filter out underprivileged Muslims via a National Register for Citizens. The video, released by the Jamia Coordination Committee, shows masked paramilitary personnel storming Jamia’s Old Reading Hall and thrashing youngsters at study desks. A young man lost his eye. It was the flashpoint of the people’s resistance against the CAA, which gathered steam after the government’s moves over the National Population Register. As of today, 33 lives have been lost to the nationwide protests.
The path of dissent is never easy. But the law gives Indian citizens the freedom to assemble peacefully to voice opinions, the very lever that moves democracy and our system of governance. It doesn’t give the police the right to shut it down with violence, as it did in Washermanpet, Tamil Nadu, without provocation, on Friday. Yet no FIR has been lodged for the Jamia library incident, forcing the university to move the Delhi high court. Instead, the Delhi police crime branch released its own video of a young man entering the library with stones in a purported bid to justify its crackdown by insinuating a possible intent of violence.
It hasn’t convinced anyone of their lack of culpability. With the Opposition stepping up criticism, special commissioner of police (intelligence) Praveer Ranjan has been pushed to the backfoot, and he has now promised an investigation. Will there result, as a consequence, new police reforms freeing members of the force to act according to the law and own conscience, instead of government diktats? Will the Delhi police be shamed into taking action against its own? There is always hope!