A group of students -- their hands raised -- marched in a straight line towards Sukhdev Vihar Metro Station, stone's throw from Jamia Millia Islamia, in South Delhi, after police took them out of varsity on Sunday evening.
The cameras flashed, TV reporters ran towards them before someone said: "Let them go, let them go."
The students lowered their gaze as they moved past TV crew and heavy police deployment in the middle of the road.
A student, with wounded lips, moved away, refusing to utter a word. Another group of women, on the other side of the Maulana Mohammad Jauhar Ali Marg, leading to the campus, negotiated with police personnel, imploring them to let them in, "for their friends were still stranded inside."
All this after protests, led by people from Jamia Nagar and nearby areas, against the amended Citizenship law took a violent turn near New Friends Colony. At least three buses were set ablaze and several vehicles were smashed, triggering lathi-charge from Delhi police.
The students, who had been protesting inside the campus peacefully, said they had no idea who "these miscreants" were.
Police used batons and teargas shells to disperse the protesters and entered the Jamia campus, injuring at least 60 people, including students.
Asma, a first-year master's student, said the students were inside the reading hall on the main campus. "We panicked and had to switch off the lights. Nobody knew what was happening. The police barged in and asked us to raise our hands as though were some criminals."
"It was traumatising. When they brought us out, we saw another group of students under detention. We don't know where they are now," she said.
Another female student alleged the police gathered around the campus and started hurling tear gas shells. "My friends and I ran towards the library on the main campus and stayed there for at least an hour before the police came and took us out," she said.
"When one of my friends said she wanted to go back to her hostel, the police taunted, saying 'you needed Azaadi, no? Come, we will give you azaadi," she recalled.
A female student, who was trapped inside one of the washrooms, said the police pulled the hijab of one of her friends and beat another male friend brutally.
"They beat him and detained him," she said, adding, "we could only hear loud explosions and thought we would be killed today."
"I texted my mother that I loved her. I thought this was it... We could die," she said, gasping for breath while speaking over the phone.
The female student further said: "They called us Pakistanis, hurled abuses at us, and all this inside the campus."
Multiple videos showed policemen with batons chasing protesters, who ran in all directions. While students alleged police assaulted them, Chinmoy Biswal, deputy commissioner of police (south-east), said they had no issues with the varsity students.
"Around 2-2.30 pm, some groups moved towards the Ring Road intending to visit New Delhi area. They went past the Holy Family Hospital and Sarai Julena before we stopped them using barricades near Surya Hotel,” the DCP said.
The police added they requested the protesters not to disrupt the traffic, "but some groups escaped and proceeded towards the Ring Road before they were stopped near Mata Mandir Road."
The DCP said they repeatedly urged them to move back and protest at the designated spot, "but they didn't listen to us and went about setting DTC buses on fire".
It was only after our requests fell on deaf ears that the police decided to “push them back”.
When questioned why the police entered the campus, he said since the varsity is located on both sides of the road, some members from among the "mob entered the campus and continuously hurled stones at us".
"We had to enter inside to check those places and secure them from the anti-social elements,” said the DCP.
Soon after the violence, Waseem Ahmed Khan, the Chief Proctor of the university, said: "The police have entered the campus by force, no permission was given. Our staff and students are being beaten up and forced to leave the campus."
Tehreem, a physiotherapy student, who was among the first group of students released from the reading hall, said the students were protesting peacefully inside the campus, near the central canteen. "We heard a loud explosion outside and came out to check. TV channels at that time were showing the buses set ablaze by someone," she said, adding that the students then moved towards the library.
"The police were beating up students and we were scared they might barge into the library, prompting someone from among the students to switch off the lights," Tehreem claimed the "police hurled abuses and called them names."
Late in the evening, Father George PA, director of Holy Family Hospital, said, "We received university students and also police personnel. Most of them have been discharged now."
He said three-four persons, including two police personnel, were admitted to the hospital.
"They got injuries on the head, maybe due to stone-pelting. None of them is critical. We are taking care of them," he said.
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