However, the protest turned violent when the students were reportedly attacked by the police, and clashed with members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The students gathered at Delhi University’s Faculty of Arts building in the morning, under the watch of the police. The students claimed they were protesting peacefully but the police attacked them without provocation. A scuffle then broke out between them and members of the ABVP, who reportedly shouted “terrorists” and “Naxalites” at the protesters.
“We were all peacefully standing outside,” said Avilasha, a psychology student. “After our examinations got over, we were standing over here and talking. The police were also silently standing. Suddenly, the police started pushing people, police officers held us and started manhandling us. There was a girl who was kicked in her stomach. Every now and then, the police came in groups, dragging people outside the gate. We don’t know where they have been taken.”
Saurabh, a law student who participated in the protest, said members of the ABVP approached them at about noon. “They started heckling and beating us. The police didn’t do anything, they just watched. They chased us all the way out of the college.”
Raniya Zuleika, a student of Ramjas College, claimed the police were targeting women wearing hijab. “The police didn’t utter a word when ABVP were chasing us,” she said. “They focused on women wearing hijabs and were completely one-sided.”
The clash between the ABVP and the protesters escalated when both groups, standing on either side of a fence, began shouting at each other. The police quickly arranged for buses to take the students out of the university premises and drop them at Civil Lines metro station. “From there, they can go anywhere,” a police officer told Newslaundry.
As the students were moved into the buses, the ABVP members began screaming “terrorist” and “anti-national” at the protesters, who responded with cuss words.
The ABVP, however, claimed that the protesters were not allowing other students to take their examinations. “Some leftists and anti-national people assembled here this morning. They locked down the building,” said Anurag Gautam, the Delhi state social media convener of the ABVP. “They are risking the careers of the students. They are manipulating innocent students.”
According to Gautam, there is “no issue” to protest over. “Our home minister supported the Citizenship Amendment Act. Still, they [the students] ransacked Jamia.”
But didn’t the Delhi police enter Jamia Millia Islamia and assault the students on Sunday evening. “Don’t accuse the police,” Gautam replied. “They are trying to protect us. We should be ashamed that we are holding them responsible.”
He added: “These Bangladeshis and terrorists should be thrown out of our country.”
Nandita Narayan, former president of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association, told Newslaundry: “The issue is getting diverted and ABVP is trying to politicise the issue. Let’s not fall into the trap.”
While the students had planned to boycott their examinations to express solidarity with Jamia Millia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University students, most of them sat for their exams, saying Delhi University wasn’t supporting them.