The National Human Rights Commission disposed a considerable amount of complaints against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019and the police violence in JamiaMiliaIslamia in December 2019and has recommended a probe by Special Investigation Team of the Delhi police to identify and arrest the “real perpetrators” behind the violent protests.
The blame was put on the students of the University for holding protests without proper permission from the University and observations were made by NHRC that the students for NRC CAA protest had come under the influence of outsiders to indulge in unauthorized protests.
The protection under Article 19 of the Constitution of India could not be given as students of Jamia were a part of an “unlawful assembly”for NRC CAA protest and were responsible for instigating the actions of the Delhi Police; they had indulged in destruction of property, both public and private.
Insidious elements existed when the protests took place, and that there is a need to uncover these elements.
The report observed, “There is a need to uncover real actors, and motive behind overall protest at JamiaMiliaIslamia which seems to be smartly and purportedly organized under disguise of students.“
The NHRC proposed recommendations in light of the observations:
“Government of India to direct Police Commissioner of Delhi to ensure that the SIT of Crime Branch, Delhi Police investigates all the related cases on merits and in a time-bound manner by identifying and arresting the real perpetrators behind this violent protest.“
Independent probe into police violence during NRC- CAA Protestswas not recommended.
NHRC recommended the Government of India to direct Police Commissioner of Delhi and Director General of CRPF for RAF to identify members of the force who were seen on CCTV footage damaging CCTV cameras, unnecessarily coming inside the libraries and using tear gas shells inside the close compound of the library, after the emergence of CCTV visuals showing police violence.
“A suitable action may be taken against them as per rules and provisions that exist in the respective organization.“
An investigation into police actions by an independent agency monitored by retired judges was sought by the petitioner.
The GNCTD was also recommended to provide suitable compensation to the injured students of NRC CAA protest who received grievous injuries, on humanitarian grounds.
The other key recommendations to police actions:
* Government of India to direct Police Commissioner of Delhi and Director General of CRPF for RAF to ensure that the police force is sensitized and special training modules are carried out to inculcate professionalism in handling such law and order situations;
* Government of India to direct Police Commissioner of Delhi to expedite administrative inquiry into alleged atrocities committed by the Police inside the library, and for actions on its findings and recommendations to be taken promptly;
* Government of India to advise Police Commissioner of Delhi and other senior officers to improve and set up a robust intelligence gathering system to ensure better preparedness to prevent such incidents in the future. Special steps may be taken to counter rumour mongering and circulation of distorted and false news especially on the social media.
At NHRC, multiple complaints had been registered regarding the detention of students and, the use of excessive force in form of lathi-charge and tear gas shells by the Delhi Police during a peaceful NRC CAA protest being conducted by the students of Jamia on 15th December, 2019. The complaints had alleged that students had been grievously injured as the police entered the University, damaged the library, hostel and other public places.
The police was law-bound to contain the activities in order to maintain law and order. However, it also terms as the use of tear gas shells inside the compound as “irresponsible action of the police” which “could have been avoided”, the NHRC stated.
The NHRC team was led by Ms. Manzil Saini, SSP who visited the spot and recorded statements, and then came to the following conclusions:
Protests were not peaceful as claimed and hence, police was forced to intervene
Despite a 2017 notification requiring for such prior permission to be sought in order for any “activity” to be conducted, the students of Jamia conducted the NRC CAA protest without any permission of the University.They were also not “peaceful as they claimed”.
On 13th December, a “clash” had taken place between the police and the students/local residents however, the police had “succeeded to contain them at Gate No. 1 of the campus. No report/complaint was made to any authority in the regards.
The students and local residents yet again engaged in violent NRC CAA protests, thereby damaging “various private and Govt. properties and burnt down buses and other vehicles. They also attacked on the police with stones, petrol bomb etc. They blocked the traffic from all sides at Mathura Road, Ashram Chowk. The gathering was declared an ‘unlawful assembly’ by the police”stated the report.
“Law bound to contain the activities of these unlawful assemblies to maintain the law & Order”. The appeals made by the police, including senior officers, had been ignored by the protestors of NRC CAA protest at large extent.
The beating was “avoidable” and could be attributed to “irresponsible action of the police”, stated the report.
Administrative Failure atJamiaMiliaIslamia University
Failure on behalf of the Administration of the University was pointed by NHRC as “they did not try to share any development of discontentment of students with local police and also did not seek any assistance from them“. The failure of the Proctorial team who had left their positions at Gate No. 7, when they should have remained there in order to pacify the students and the police was also noted.
The campus is divided into two sides of a public road, the students are “prone to mingling with local population” and that the administration should come up with a “permanent solution” to tackle this problem in case of NRC CAA protest.
Desireto find the real actors behind protests
Freedom of Speech and Expression is not absolute under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
“Constitutional limitations are attached”, .reported NHRC
Judgements of the Supreme Court and High Courts have been referred to in order to assert that reasonable restrictions are applicable on the exercise of the fundamental right under Article 19.
“It is well settled in law that law enforcing authorities are the best judge for meeting a situation prevailing in a particular locality based on which appropriate decision is to be taken either to grant permission to conduct meeting or protest or march in a particular place and a particular time.”
Law and Order is a State subjectin case of NRC CAA protest and “it is the duty of the concerned authority to take a final call. Hence, assembly must be peaceful to get benefit of this Article.“
Following recommendations to the VC, authorities of the University and the MHRD were made by NHRC:
*Recommends to the VC, Registrar and other authorities of the University to establish a mechanism of better communication with the students’ fraternity “for NRC CAA protest so that they are not influenced by outsiders and local goons or petty politicians. Also, the University management should ensure timely sharing of information and regular liaising with local police so that such incidents can be prevented in the future. An SOP may be prepared to deal with such incidents in the future”;
*Recommends to the Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India, to look in to the difficulty with regard to division of campus across public road and to sort out the issue amicably to avoid law and order problems in the future. It further recommends them to submit an Action Taken Report on the letter dated 20.12.2019 of the Registrar of the University.
Read NHRC Report: