By Arpita Singh and Majid Alam
A law student at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university is in a state of trauma after doctors told him that he has lost his left eye, two days after a policeman shoved a wooden baton into his eye as he was reading books in a campus library while police were violently cracking down on students protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in South Delhi discharged the victim, Mohammad Minhajuddin, on Tuesday evening, telling him his eye was damaged beyond repair due to “ocular penetrating and perforating injuries,” Mumtaz Hashmi, a classmate of the victim, told StoriesAsia.
Minhajuddin, a third-semester student of the two-year advanced Master of Laws course, went through a surgery last night but his eye could not be saved, Hashmi said. Doctors fear the injuries in the left eye might affect his vision in the other eye, too, as a common nerve between the two eyes is badly injured.
The parents of Minhajuddin are devastated but haven’t been able to visit their son due to financial constraints, Hashmi said, adding that the student’s classmates and friends are arranging money for his father and mother to buy the tickets to travel from the eastern Bihar state’s Samastipur area. His father is a school teacher.
Hashmi and another classmate, Farhaan Azimee, were with Minhajuddin when he was released from the hospital.
Minhajuddin was in the Central Library inside the campus on Sunday evening when police forcibly entered the campus premises after shelling students gathered outside a gate of the university to protest the passing of the bill which is being seen as anti-Muslim. The law enables religious minorities barring Muslims from the Muslim-majority countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh living in India since before 2014 to apply for Indian citizenship.
Protests in Jamia and other universities across the country started on Dec. 12 when the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in parliament.
Minhajuddin and his classmates have demanded that the university’s administration release the CCTV footage, but to no avail. Professor Masood Alam from Jamia had earlier told StoriesAsia that police entered the campus without seeking permission from the administration.
A student earlier described to StoriesAsia what the attack by police on Sunday evening looked like, “I saw a girl who had shattered glass stuck all over her clothes as police were vandalising the university’s property. One of us broke a window of the central library to get in. I don’t know how many stairs I managed to climb until I was exhausted. I couldn’t see any of my friends but I could hear them being beaten up. I was so numb that I couldn’t feel anything.
“Police pulled a girl’s hijab and I hit out. I spotted another friend standing near the lift, so we held hands and ran. It was pitch dark; all we could hear was cries, shouts and bangs. We reached the washroom near the exit and locked ourselves in. I felt as if a murderer was out there waiting to kill me, and that in order to survive I needed to maintain pin drop silence. We didn’t dare to move an inch.”
More than 100 people, including some policemen but mostly students, have been injured in violent crackdowns on protesters, mainly at Jamia in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University in the north-central Uttar Pradesh state.
StoriesAsia could not speak to Minhajuddin, as Hashmi said the victim was too shaken to talk, just as she and other classmates were.
Arpita Singh is an independent journalist with StoriesAsia, a collective of freelance journalists in South and Southeast Asia.