“The pain, pus, and blood rendered them bedridden for weeks after the assault. Women, as young as 16 and as old as 60, were sexually assaulted, many of who are now suffering from serious gynecological complications. A woman who had previously been operated for a cesarean delivery kept pleading for the beatings to stop, but the assault continued till the cop was pulled back.”
On 10 February 2020, Jamia Millia Islamia witnessed one of the violent attacks on its peaceful protestors against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) that no one should have to face in a democracy.
A fact-finding report has been released on Monday by National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), the women’s wing of the Communist Party of India which has demanded the government to institute a special judicial inquiry to investigate the ‘heinous’ nature of the crimes inflicted by men in uniform against students.
“A fact-finding report done by us in which there is no prejudice, but just recounting of facts is extremely important. Such independent reports have become critical to the well-being of our democracy,” Social activist and NFIW president Aruna Roy said during the press conference.
“The vehemence and sense of vindictiveness of the attackers were extraordinary. After listening to the stories of the victims, we would rather call them survivors of violence. The inhuman manner and the ferocity of the assault were apparently to drive home the point that the anti CAA protestors are enemies of the State,” the report said.
The sufferers of violence included 30-35 men and 15-17 women in an age range of 15-60 years who underwent grievous injuries.
As the NFIW didn’t get access to the MLCs, the report is a compilation of testimonies by survivors, their spokespersons, medical practitioners, legal and medical advisors who clearly points to the role of both the police as well as those in plain or fake uniforms which was same as in the case of previous campus attacks in Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia itself.
The NFIW reports that “eyewitnesses told us that at about 6:30 PM, a misty air was visible from a distance. On reaching closer they discovered that an odorless spray was being used on the protestors.”
The police denied answering the queries about the use of toxic gas that caused immediate immobility, drowsiness, muscle pain and severe headaches in the protestors. They claimed it to be the mosquito fumigation spray from a nearby hospital which later proved false when the hospital denied the claim and the fact that fumigation for mosquitoes does not lead to the kind of reaction that the survivors faced.
Doctors were intimidated by police to not conduct tests
The most horrific part post the violence is the reluctance of doctors and nursing staff to conduct a blood test or a urine test to identify the gas so that the long term impacts or effects of it will be known.
“Over time most survivors we talked to, as well as the administrative staff of different hospitals and clinics told us that the doctors were apparently intimidated by policemen in plainclothes to not conduct any tests,” the report added.
The report also stresses the level of sexual assault on about 15 women and 30 men which shows the unlimited power of police over peaceful protestors.
Female students were molested by policemen
The report states “Women were molested by policemen, who attempted to tear their clothes, punched their breasts or stomped on them with their boots, as well as tried to insert their batons into their vaginas. At least 15 women were stomped on in their private parts, and they suffered injuries in their vaginas.”
Men also suffered serious injuries in their sexual organs which was equally severe. “The attack on the groin and rectum resulted in severe injuries.”
The excessive beatings the protestors faced were horrible and continued even in the bus that carried them to the police station. The report notes that the injuries were mostly on four specific spots: chest, navel, groin, and feet.
The survivors told the NFIW that “It was as if the police were trying to maim them, fracture their skulls or paralyze them by targeting the spine.” Even the handicapped and disabled were brutally beaten like any other protestor.
The report also notes the Islamophobia that the police forces exercises apart from the brutality. “All victims also pointed to the abusive language and anti-Muslim slurs used by the policemen while attacking, such as Pakistanis and Mullas,” the NFIW said.
NFIW has also demanded adequate compensation to the survivors of violence and reminded that no FIRs have been filed till date.
Haneena PA is a media student at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and a freelance journalist.