How many students detained? Jamia VC Najma’s statement, drones used to man area
After security was stepped up on the campus and media flocking at Jamia Millia Islamia to cover development arising of a statement issued by Left-affiliated students group on its plans to organise screening of the controversial BBC documentary on Narendra Modi which has been banned in India at 6 pm on MCRC lawn, the university swung into action and it was thwarted after much drama on the campus road throughout the day.
The Delhi Police detained several activists, nearly four hours before the scheduled event.
“A screening for a BBC documentary was to be organised by a group of Jamia students inside the university today, which was not allowed by the administration of the university. The university administration informed the police that some students were creating ruckus on the streets and therefore, a total of 13 students were detained around 4 pm to ensure peace in the area,” DCP (southeast) Esha Pandey said in a statement.
On the other hand all the gates of the campus were closed with only those appearing for examinations being allowed entry, said sources. And at the end of the day things calmed down with the development grabbing headlines.
Jamia Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar said some students were trying to disrupt the atmosphere of the campus by trying to organise such events. Akhtar called SFI a “small students group with no following” and accused it of disturbing the peace on the campus.
“We do not want any disturbance on the campus. We desire to keep the peace and harmony in the university where students are studying and giving exams,” she told PTI. After coming to know about the plans of students’ group, the university had issued a statement clearing its stand that it won’t allow screening of the BBC documentary.
The Jamia administration has said no screening of the film will be allowed without permission. “The university reiterates that no meeting of students or screening of any film will be allowed in the campus without permission. University is taking all measures to prevent people/orgs having vested interest to destroy peaceful academic atmosphere here”, the university said in a circular.
Chief Proctor Atiqur Rahman told PTI: “We did not call the police. They were doing their work outside the campus. No screening took place, nothing happened inside the campus.”
The police also used drones to maintain a vigil over the area.
And as the ruckus raged outside the campus, SIO Delhi sought immediate release of detained Jamia students.
“Students Islamic organisation of Delhi strongly condemns the illegal detention of Jamia student by the Delhi Police over BBC’s documentary which is going to be screened this evening. Police have detained them in an undisclosed location. We demand immediate and unconditional release of all the students.
“We firmly stand against the Police’s attempts to silence the democratic voices and rights of the students and citizens. Universities and campuses must have an environment that offers free and fair dialogue and debates under constitutional values. Such actions by the police harm the democratic environment of prestigious institutions, which also is not in the interests of our nation. Police should be away from the campuses and allow students to enjoy their constitutional rights,” it said in a statement.
Pritish Menon, secretary, SFI Delhi state committee said many protesters were detained.
“We were about to begin the demonstration, but the protesters were detained before that. They were taken to the police station. Later most of the students were released, but seven activists are yet to be released,” he said.
“The students were not doing anything illegal. The documentary has not been formally banned. Dissenting against the government is a right enshrined in the constitution. If these basic qualities of a democracy are being denied in places of higher learning where we are supposed to teach students to question, be critical, to dissent, then it is showing a very dangerous trend in what is supposed to be the biggest democracy in the world,” Varkey Parakkal, a leader of the SFI, told NDTV.
A day ago a similar event was held at Jawaharlal Nehru University. The situation by the JNU administration was managed with the students claiming that power and Internet were suspended.