The experiences of a Muslim student in police custody

Scores of Jamia Millia Islamia students were lathi-charged by police on Monday when they tried to march toward Parliament against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). More than 10 women students are being treated for injuries to their private parts. More than ten students were detained. Shaheen Abdulla, a student of M.A.Convergent Journalism in Jamia Millia Islamia and creative editor of Maktoob was among the detainees. Here, Shaheen writes:

The whole plan of deploying police in front of the barricades means they want a confrontation with the protesting students. Female protesters including an elderly woman were leading it when the march met the police force. When male police started to attack women, we tried to rescue them from the assault. When there was no sign of humility from the police we pushed forward and reached the barricades and got on it. We demanded the senior officers call back the police from the front. We told them a lot of elderly people are among us and the crackdown would be brutal. Police started to pull us down from both sides. I was the third person to be detained. As I was dragged to the bus, there was a group of armed police following us.

The moment they threw me inside, the officers inside punched me by saying “now I will give you Azadi”. When they attacked me with batons and other things in their hand, I pushed them back. This triggered them and one officer started shouting ‘Goli Maro usko’. I was pushed back and when the other detainee, Izhar Hussain from the engineering department, tried to stop them, he was beaten up.

When they succeeded in grounding me on the floor, they used their boots to stamp my face and kicked my private part. We were not allowed to sit on the seat as we could be visible from the windows. Police rounded up and started to slap us. Twisted my hands from behind when I tried to cover the other person’s face. The man behind me whom I had pushed as self-defense, hit me until his anger was quenched. Then he invited other officers to attack me. Meanwhile, the other boy was facing a similar assault in front of me. When we called them ‘Bayya’ ( brother) we were ‘punished’ and asked us to call them ‘sir’. From their language and use of ‘agency’ for police, evidently meant they were high ranked officers and they were interrogating us. They ensured the bus was out of any surveillance and knew that the easy way to break us was attacking the other person. When Tahzeen, a fellow protester who hails from Kerala, was brought to the bus. I shouted him to rush behind me and covered him as police jumped for him. They were angry about him in regard to toppling an officer’s helmet. They pulled me away and attacked him.

It wasn’t mere frustration. The senior officers were warning them not to make wounds.

” Do you need Azadi like Kashmir, we will do what we do in Kashmir,” Riot police mocked at us. When I looked for his nameplate, he turned away and removed it. When a student from the school of economics named Atul Tripathi, who claims to be a brahmin and said he was there just to watch. Police during the humiliating interrogation told him, why are you in a Muslim’s protest.

“We are paid to hit you,” the old officer was shouting when he was attacking Atul. No media or any person was allowed to come near the bus. Through the window, I could see officers coming and looking at us and having a good laugh.

The whole time, we were on the floor. Desperate and in fury, I raised up and sat on the seat. I told them it was my right. The police tried all their force but I stayed stubborn, they attacked others for which I gave up.

When all the other detainees came we were allowed to sit. On the way to Badarpur station all others got along with the officers, but we three couldn’t digest the idea and smile, at least I couldn’t. When we reached the officer came to me and whispered to turn down my ‘Voltage’. I told him it’s impossible.

It’s not about the pain, it was never like that. It’s the humiliation, oppression, discrimination, and dehumanization which still burns. The other stories from Jamia also evidently show that attempt from the state to target us. A hundred thoughts went through my mind, and the last thing I agreed on is to write everything. The agency people have given special mention in their records. But until we revive our dignity and our rights, I will go back and fight. I don’t believe in a life without dignity. We have died a thousand times in helplessness and that’s the limit.

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