More than 100 students have been injured in India after baton-wielding police charged at them and fired tear gas at two federally-run universities where students were holding anti-citizenship law protests.
Students in capital New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Uttar Pradesh state’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) had been protesting since the new law was passed last week.
The contentious law grants citizenship to religious minorities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians – from neighbouring Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, a provision critics say violates India’s secular constitution.
In South Delhi on Sunday, residents joined the JMI students as they tried to march towards Parliament to protest the exclusion of Muslims from the citizenship law.
Clashes erupted after police tried to disperse the demonstrators as they reached the Sarai Julena area near the university campus, with buses and private vehicles set on fire.
The police then stormed the JMI and fired tear gas into some classrooms. Indian media reports said students praying at a mosque were also attacked.
Nearly 100 students were detained following the violence, although university authorities said the students did not take part in the burning of vehicles.
“The police have entered the campus by force, no permission was given,” said JMI’s Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmed. “Our staff and students are being beaten up and forced to leave the campus,” he told ANI news agency.
JMI Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar also backed the students, saying she was “hurt by the way my students were treated”.