Mumbai: Terming its as a “gross violation of human rights” around 400 Indian students studying in various American universities have condemned the “brutal police violence unleashed against students” of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University last Sunday.
They have also called upon Union Home Minister Amit Shah to immediately take the necessary steps to curb police brutality or resign.
In a detailed statement bearing the names, universities of the students/alumni signatories released on Tuesday, they expressed full solidarity with students across the two Indian universities who were “peacefully” protesting against the recent passing of what they termed as “the unconstitutional and discriminatory” Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
“By every account, it appears that police and paramilitary, both at Jamia and at AMU, have used violence and pursued unlawful and reckless tactics against student protesters in violation of protections under the Constitution of India and international human rights law,” the statement released through Jhalak M. Kakkar of Harvard Law School said.
They also termed the entry of police and paramilitary in university premises, indiscriminate attacks within the campuses, releasing tear gas in libraries and brutal use of force against civilians “as a blatant violation of the law and can only shock the conscience of any democratic society”.
Referring to students’ narratives of police rampaging through hostels, molesting women, arbitrary detentions of Jamia students at police stations, denial of access to legal representation, the statement dubbed it as “complete negation of every norm that guide the functioning of the police in a democratic society governed by the rule of law”.
“Seen further in the light of the fact that most victims of this brutality were Muslims, these incidents stand out as shocking instantiations of targeted violence against a minority group,” the statement added.
The Indian students/alumni also condemned violence against protesters in Assam where “five people have died, including two minor boys who were shot by the police”.
“This, combined with illegal blockade of the internet in the state, has completely blocked news reports of events on the ground, and the ability of the protesters to represent their demands and report unlawful police action,” the statement said.
Expressing concerns over the statement of the Chief Justice of India terming the protests as “riots”, implying it as a law and order problem for the police to handle, the statement said it is without recognising the violation of the rights of protesters, especially the degree of violence unleashed on them.
The statement demanded an immediate end to “violence” by the police and complete withdrawal from campuses, an immediate independent investigation into the alleged abuse of power by the Delhi Police, Uttar Pradesh Police and CRPF.
It also sought permission for student protesters to continue their protests peacefully in exercise of their fundamental rights under the Indian Constitution without force by the police or other law enforcers, urged the IPS and IAS to fulfil their duties to uphold the Constitution by resisting political demands to abuse their powers, and ensure that the police function strictly within the Constitutional, legal and ethical limits.
The students/alumni groups who have signed the statement hail from: Harvard University, Columbia University, Yale University, New York University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of Chicago, Brown University, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, Tufts University, Johns Hopkins University, Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley Purdue University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Southern California, and University of Illinois.