Hold Delhi Police accountable | HT Editorial
The Jamia footage undermines its claims. Take action now
On Sunday, exactly two months after violence in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university, a group coordinating the agitation in the university against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act released a disturbing video. It showed eight to nine personnel in police and paramilitary uniforms enter the Jamia library, and beat unarmed students with lathis and batons, apparently on the evening of December 15. Subsequently, two other videos appeared online. One showed a man carrying a stone and hiding in the library, while the other showed a group of people — some carrying stones — in a corridor on the campus. A fourth video, which emerged on Monday, provided more elaborate footage of security personnel indiscriminately beating students even as they prayed for mercy, and smashing property. The sequence of the events is not clear, nor is it clear who leaked the footage.
But the first and the fourth video have established three things. One, despite the claim of the Delhi Police that it had neither entered the library nor vandalised it, the video appears to quite conclusively prove that the police (and possibly a paramilitary force) entered the library and used force. Two, while the police and government supporters have used the second and third video to suggest that rioters entered the library, it still does not justify the behaviour of the security personnel. Even if those who engaged in violence outside sought shelter in the library, the police should have followed due process, and, under no circumstances, should have engaged in the kind of violence that they are seen to be inflicting on students. And three, the video lends credence to the testimony of students, who alleged police brutality, about the events inside the campus.
Over 100 people were injured in the violence in Jamia. Despite the university having filed a complaint against Delhi Police, no First Information Report (FIR) has been registered. The university has now decided to go to court seeking the registration of an FIR. The manner in which the Delhi Police acted on December 15 in Jamia, its subsequent refusal to register an FIR, and its reluctance to act in Jawaharlal Nehru University on January 5, when a mob attacked students and faculty members, point to a disturbing pattern. The Delhi Police, instead of being impartial and following the law, has been complicit in violence – either through commission or omission. It also appears to be acting as an adjunct of political masters. For justice, accountability and its own credibility, the police must initiate strict action against those who committed excesses, end the culture of impunity, and reform its mode of functioning.