Delhi police personnel had sexually assaulted at least 45 unarmed students of Jamia Millia Islamia on February 10 while preventing them from conducting a march to Parliament.

The report of a fact-finding committee of a women’s collective also claimed that the students were also sprayed with a gaseous chemical that had a long-term physical effect on them.

Dr Rushda Siddiqui, Working President of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), a women’s collective, told Clarion India that the committee interacted with students, teachers and doctors of several hospitals and compiled a full-fledged report on the basis of the testimonies of the survivors of the police attack. 

The report has been compiled after talking to the injured victims, other students, teachers, activists, medical professionals, administrative staff and legal professionals who elaborated on the gruesome violence that was perpetrated on the protesters.

NFIW, in its report, mentioned that 15 women aged between 16 and 60 years sustained injuries in their private parts and below the waist. Many fell unconscious and had to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of hospital. The report mentioned that feet of several students were crushed under boots of policemen who also poked batons in the chest of the protesters.

“All injuries were mostly on four specific spots: chest, navel, groin and feet. Apart from these, many also took the beating on their head and neck. Most survivors complained about the ferocity of the attacks. It was as if the police were trying to maim them, fracture their skulls or paralyse them by targeting the spine”, reads the fact-finding report.

Talking about the nature of the behaviour of the armed forces accompanying the cops, Dr. Siddiqui said the targeting of women during the protests was done to lower their morale and crush their agitation. Recalling the series of the attacks on Muslim women and supporters during different incidents after the Jamia campus crackdown, she said it had become a ‘new normal’.  “The police atrocity has been normalised in India on a particular community, idea and gender”, she added. 

The report further says that one of the injured male students said that his spleen had ruptured due to which there was swelling and pain in the stomach, and the joints of the toes had dislocated and slid under the feet, rendering him immobilised. 

“Women were molested by the male 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 the vaginas”, the NFIW report said mentioning the fact that this sexual and physical assault was also accompanied by the verbal slangs and abuses.

The report adds that the victims were assaulted in the police-station-bound bus as well. “About 30 boys (students and protesters) were picked up to be taken to the police station. During the 40-minute drive to the station, the boys were constantly beaten in the bus. All suffered from groins being kicked by boots.”

Even during the pogrom, said Dr. Siddiqui, women were the target because they started the movement. Police action against Safoora Zargar, Gulfisha, Ishrat Jahan, Devangna Kalita, Natasha Narwal and other women is being cited as an example for others, she added. 

Armed forces did not stop police attacks, as mentioned in the reports, but continued the beating of the male and female students during their escort to the police station for detention. Females were manhandled by male personnel. 

The report quoted victims claiming that police and armed forces used an unknown chemical spray to hurt and harass the protesters.

The protesters said it was not the usual tear gas. According to the report, the students and protesters said they experienced instant immobility, drowsiness and severe headache. “They also experienced choking and muscle pain. Most were unable to stand for a long time after being sprayed on. A few students, who moved away from the area where the gas was being sprayed, also complained of nausea, headache and muscle pain that made it difficult for them to move. When they tried to get back to the barricades to help others, they were either beaten up or sprayed on again rendering them incapable of any movement. It is evident that the spray was a chemical with serious health implications.”

Though, police officers were mum on the type of the chemical spray, they only said it was a mosquito fumigation spray that had spread to the barricades from Holy Family Hospital. “That claim is totally false as the hospital was nearly a kilometre away from the barricades.”

Asked about the authenticity of the claim, Dr. Siddiqui wondered why the symptoms remained among the victims even after two weeks of the attack if there was no use of a chemical spray. 

Almost all the victims of the attack, as claimed in the report, received open or hidden threats from the police personnel to not speak of their injuries with anyone. Doctors, too, seemed to have been threatened as the statements of all the medical professionals looked almost the same and evasive.

In view of the terrible assault made on protesters, NFIW made following demands:

. The Ministry of Home Affairs should give a white paper explanation on the events of the 10th evening, from the setting up of barricades to the detaining of students in the police station.

. The government must institute a special judicial inquiry to investigate the heinous nature of the crimes perpetrated by men in uniform.

. Apart from the inquiry, a team of doctors to investigate and submit a public report on the use of chemicals on the protestors, and the nature of injuries of the survivors.

. File FIRs as NO FIR HAS BEEN FILED till date regarding the injuries suffered by the unarmed protesters. Intimidation of survivors and related groups needs to be noted immediately. The harassment and threats need to stop.

. As the crimes and excesses committed by the men in uniform are increasing by the day, we ask for not only a policy of police reforms, but also the implementation of the related sections of the Justice Verma Commission Report, that have been conveniently overlooked by successive governments.

. It is not only the brutality exercised by the police but the Islamophobic ideology that the police forces have been indoctrinated with that needs be addressed on an urgent basis.

. Lastly, demand for adequate compensation to the survivors for the injuries suffered.
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