New Delhi: Situation in the national capital turned tense on Sunday evening when three Delhi Transport Corporation buses were torched in south Delhi, following which hundreds of police officers entered Jamia Millia Islamia University to "chase some outsiders who had indulged in vandalism".
The police used batons and teargas shells to disperse the violent mob and entered the Jamia university campus, detaining several persons allegedly involved in the violence.
Escorted by police, some youths could be seen coming out of their hostels with their hands raised. Some of them claimed the police also entered the library and "harassed" the students.
Sources said that at least 40 people were injured in the clashes and were taken to a nearby hospital. Father George PA, director of Holy Family Hospital, said, We received university students and also two police personnel who suffered injuries, bruises. Most of them have been discharged now." He said that three-four persons, including two police personnel, were admitted to the hospital. "They have got injures on head, maybe due to stone pelting. None of them are critical. We are taking care of them," he said.
Disappointed over force's handling of the situation, thousands of people gathered outside the old Delhi Police Headquarters, including senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid and CPI General Secretary D Raja.
Students from all across Delhi joined the agitation, with Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union giving a call for overnight stir. The protesters raised anti-police slogans outside the headquarters in ITO area.
Commuters faced a harrowing time as traffic was thrown out of gear for several hours in the areas gripped by tension after the clash and Delhi Metro shut over a dozen stations.
A Jamia students' body claimed they had nothing to do with the violence and arson during the protest and alleged that "certain elements" had joined in and "disrupted" the demonstration.
Soon after the violence, Jamia Millia Islamia Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmed Khan claimed that the Delhi Police entered the campus forcibly without any permission and beat up staff members and students who were forced to leave the campus. Condemning the police action, university vice chancellor Najma Akhtar said students who were inside the library have been taken out and are safe.
Police said they entered the university campus only to control the situation, after protesters indulged in the violence. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southeast) Chinmoy Biswal said four buses and two police vehicles were torched during the protest, and six policemen were injured. He said stones were pelted from inside the university campus at police personnel, forcing them to use teargas to disperse the "violent mob". Biswal said some people have been detained but did not give details.
In the wake of violence during protests against the amended Citizenship Act in south Delhi, DMRC closed gates of several metro stations, including GTB Nagar, Shivaji Stadium, Patel Chowk and Vishwavidyalaya, on Sunday evening for several hours.
A Delhi Fire Services official said four fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the burning buses. One of them was completely damaged and two personnel were injured, he said. Plumes of smoke billowed from the torched buses as firemen tried to douse the blaze.
The protest was being held against the contentious law which seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslims religious minorities from three neighbouring countries who arrived in India to escape religious persecution.
According to Saimon Farooqui, the national secretary of Congress-affiliated National Students' Union of India, the protesters were peacefully sitting on Mathura Road when policemen tried to "trouble" a couple of protesters, who resisted. Thereafter, the police lathicharged the protesters and used teargas, he alleged.
Meanwhile, Jamia Teachers' Association appealed to the students to keep away from such "direction-less" protest led by "local political leaders".
Jamia students have been protesting against the legislation. However, on Saturday evening, they had called off their university lockdown and declared they would hold peaceful protest.
After the violence this afternoon, a Jamia students' body issued a statement, saying, "We have time and again maintained that our protests are peaceful and nonviolent. We stand by this approach and condemn any party involved in the violence.
"We have maintained calm even when students have been lathicharged and some women protestors badly beaten up. Media personnel are a witness to these events. Violence by certain elements is an attempt to vilify and discredit genuine protests," the statement said.
But the university chief proctor said, "Police entered the campus by force, no permission was taken. Staff members and students were beaten up and forced to leave the campus."
The vice chancellor said university students were not involved in the violent protest. "In the evening, when the agitation started, my students had not given a call for it," she told PTI. "...which university can have such a huge crowd. At least not my university. It was a Sunday and we had already declared winter vacation on Saturday so half of the students had already gone home," she said.
As tension prevailed in the area, the city government announced closure of all schools in southeast Delhi. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said any kind of violence is unacceptable and protests should remain peaceful. "No one shud indulge in violence. Any kind of violence is unacceptable. Protests shud remain peaceful," he tweeted.
Several states in the northeast and West Bengal have been rocked by violent protests over the Act.
West Bengal on the Edge
Internet services were shut in West Bengal's six districts — Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Howrah, North 24 Parganas and parts of South 24 Parganas — as the state convulsed with violence for the third successive day despite Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's appeal for calm.
Hitting out at the Trinamool Congress dispensation over advertisements against the NRC and the citizenship law, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said it is unconstitutional and a head of government can't use public money for such campaigns.
Incidents of violence, loot and arson were reported from Nadia, Birbhum, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Howrah districts, police said. In Amdanga area of North 24 Parganas and Nadia's Kalyani, agitators blocked thoroughfares, setting logs on fire. Shops were also ransacked and people burned tyres in Deganga in North 24 Parganas.
Train services were hit in South 24 Paraganas as protesters blocked tracks near Nungi and Akra stations, which were also ransacked. Similar protests were reported from Domjur of Howrah district, and parts of Burdwan and Birbhum, with agitators taking out rallies and raising slogans against the Modi government.
Situation in Northeast
In Assam, Gauhati Medical College and Hospital Superintendent Ramen Talukdar told PTI, "Ishwar Nayak died last night and Abdul Alim succumbed to his injuries this morning."
Two persons, identified as Sam Stafford and Dipanjal Das, were shot dead on Thursday. Police said 175 people have been arrested and 1,406 taken into preventive custody across Assam.
Special trains have been arranged to ferry stranded passengers. The West Bengal chief minister has directed officials at Coochbehar and Jalpaiguri, two districts near Assam, to ensure supply of food and water to the passengers stranded due to the blockades.
AGP leader Kumar Deepak Das said the party would file a petition in the Supreme Court for revocation of the amended Citizenship Act, even as party functionaries urged its top brass to clear their stand on the issue.
Members of the AGP's Guwahati unit also held demonstrations outside party headquarters in Ambari area, demanding resignation of three ministers, including party chief Atul Bora.
Later, at a press conference, Bora said as the legislation has already become an Act, at least the Brahmaputra valley should be excluded and it may be implemented in the Barak valley. The Barak valley, which has a significant Bengali population, has not seen any major agitation.
AGP leader and Assam minister Keshab Mahanta said the party has not left its "old stand" of opposing the law. "Though we are a part of the NDA, our stand has not changed. We still do not want this Act to be implemented in Assam and the northeast," he said.
The party's lone MP in Rajya Sabha, Birendra Prasad Baishya, opposed the Bill during discussion, but voted in favour of it following which the party is facing severe criticism. Students organisations AASU and AJYCP also took out rallies across the state, seeking revocation of the law.
Crude oil and gas production in Assam has been hit, affecting supply of petrol, diesel and LPG in many districts. The two major producers Oil India Ltd (OIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) on Sunday said their gas output have totally stopped, while oil production is down by over 75 per cent.
In another northeastern state of Meghalaya, curfew was relaxed in parts of Shillong from 6 am to 7 pm on Sunday. Banks and educational institutions remained shut with the North Eastern Hill University postponing all examinations to February 2020. Traffic was negligible on the roads during the relaxed hours of curfew and markets were shut for most parts of the day.
(With PTI inputs)