In a shocking incident, an armed,unidentified person entered the premises of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), brandishing a gun and fired at a gathering of anti-CAA protesters, injuring one student.
Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) have reverberated throughout the country in recent times, with JNU, a premier institution situated in the Capital, being one of the foremost centres of open dissent. During one such demonstration of dissent, albeit a peaceful one, students of the university had gathered for a march to Rajpath when they were confronted by a man brandishing a handgun. He reportedly shouted slogans – “azaadi chahiye? Ye lo azaadi” (You want freedom? Here, have your freedom) before firing shots at the protesters, injuring one student. The victim, Shadab Najar, a student of the Mass Communication and Research Centre (MCRC Department) at the University, was shot in the arm and was immediately rushed for treatment. The shooter, who was later found to be a juvenile, is currently in police custody, while the condition of the victim is stable.
This chilling incident occurred just a day after Anurag Thakur, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament (MP) and Union Minister gave a controversial speech at a rally in Delhi, where he used the words “goli maaro” (shoot them) while speaking against the anti-CAA demonstrations in the country. The Jamia Teachers’ Association, which condemned the incident, blamed the Union Minister’s speech for the incident, stating, “We are convinced that this shooting, which could have been fatal, was the direct result of the call to goli maaro or shoot by an elected Member of Parliament”.
There was widespread public outrage over the inability of the Delhi Police to prevent the incident, despite being present in large numbers on the scene. A Jamia Professor, on the condition of anonymity, said, “the incident unfolded right in front of the police and they were mute spectators to it.”
Praveer Ranjan, Delhi Police Special Commissioner, rubbished claims of complacency against the force, and asserted that a quick reaction wasn’t possible since the incident happened in a split of a second. Footage of videos shot by eye witnesses show that the Police a few feet from the assailant, stood still, in a defensive position. Delhi Police did manage to catch the shooter, preventing further damage.
The assailant, found to be only seventeen years old, was produced before the Juvenile Justice Board and sent to protective custody for 14 days. Police officials present at the hearing told NDTV that the accused reportedly planned to create the same situation at Shaheen Bagh but ultimately decided to go near the the Jamia campus instead. They also reported that he seemed to have been influenced by inflammatory posts on social media. An investigation into his Facebook posts revealed instances of pro-Hindutva slogans, and photos with firearms. Home Minister Amit Shah called for stringent criminal proceedings against the assailant.
The victim was admitted to AIIMS Trauma Centre and discharged the next day in a stable condition.
Social media stood united in the denouncement of the incident, with pictures of the victim, supportive messages and criticisms against violent elements, and the inertia of the police, being circulated across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. “Such an incident happening inside a prominent educational institution, especially a day before Martyrs’ Day, endangers the sanctity of education and the integrity of the nation,” opined Arnav Agrawal, a University of Delhi, student residing near the campus.
Feature Image Credits – India Today
Feature Image Caption – Shadab Najar, Student of Jamia Millia Islamia, who was shot by the assailant for protesting.