A month passes after masked goons injured 51 JNU students, teachers; no FIR, no arrest yet

Teachers and students are convinced that despite the identity of the attackers coming to the fore, inaction on Delhi Police’s part points to the force’s complicity with ABVP hoodlums

Masked goons attacked JNU campus on January 5 (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
Masked goons attacked JNU campus on January 5 (Photo courtesy: Twitter)

Tathagata Bhattacharya

Altogether 51 people were injured and private cars and property damaged when masked hoodlums, armed with rods and sticks, and mostly affiliated to or linked to the RSS-BJP’s student organisation, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) attacked students and teachers of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the evening of January 5, Parliament was informed this Tuesday. In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said as reported by the Delhi Police, a case was registered at the Vasant Kunj North police station on January 6 with regard to the attack. "Fifty-one persons sustained injuries and all were medically examined. No one was killed in this incident. Some private cars and property were also damaged. Some of the rioters involved have been identified," the minister said. But the shocking thing is that as on date, exactly a month after the gruesome incident, not one FIR has been lodged.

The Crime Branch of Delhi Police set up a special probe team and the identity of a few attackers came to the fore. But there has been no arrest till now and this has shaken the confidence of the JNU community in the Delhi Police conducting an impartial investigation.

JNU Students Union (JNUSU) general secretary Satish Yadav was himself injured in the head in an attack by ABVP supporters on January 4. He had lodged a complaint about the same around January 9-10. No FIR has been registered with regard to that complaint as well. However, when the JNU administration filed a case against him, an FIR was promptly lodged.

“Despite clear-cut evidence and the identity of several of the attackers coming into the light, the police have not registered an FIR. The attackers are roaming around in the campus freely. It is a hopeless situation,” says Yadav.

“You can’t see the police inaction in JNU’s case in isolation. How did a gunman in full view of the Delhi Police shoot a Jamia student? And how he was whisked away…the repeated shootings in Shaheen Bagh and Jamia…how lenient has the police been,” remarks Kumar Abhimanyu, another student.

Yadav also points to JNU student Sharjeel Imam’s case. “One may or may not agree with what Sharjeel said. But to book him under sedition and other draconian laws of the colonial era is preposterous. He talked about chakka jam and rail roko. That can’t call for sedition. But look how prompt Delhi Police was in arresting him from Bihar. Multiple state police forces got involved with such readiness. Now juxtapose that with the violence in JNU. This only shows that the Delhi Police is being put under political pressure.”

Sucheta Talukdar is a JNUSU councillor from the School of Social Sciences. The Delhi Police filed a case against several students, holding them to be responsible for the January 5 violence. Talukdar is one of them though she was herself tossed into the sink of Sabarmati Dhaba by the attackers. She says, “This is not about the incompetence of the police. It shows the Delhi Police, the JNU administration and the ABVP goons were hand-in-glove in this violence against the JNU community.”

However, both Talukdar and Yadav are enthused by the Delhi High Court interim order, allowing students to register with the old fee structure.

“We are hopeful that justice will validate the students’ standpoint,” says Yadav, while adding that “the VC, the Proctor and senior members of the JNU administration who are responsible for all the mess in JNU must go”.

A JNUTA resolution on February 3 unequivocally stated: “The JNUTA GBM takes serious note of the fact that the passage of time is only reinforcing the apprehensions of teachers that due to their complicity in the events of January 5, 2020, neither the Delhi Police nor the University Administration will conduct any fair enquiry into the violence of that fateful night.

After the initial press conference that the Delhi Police had on 10 January 2020, in which everything else other than the mob attack on teachers and students was talked about, no further progress has been reported nor any arrests made even though almost a month has passed since the incident. None of the 60 odd complaints filed, including those submitted by teachers, has yet been converted into an FIR. The Delhi Police SIT seems to have put the investigation into cold storage going back on their original promise of regular updates. The GBM demands answers from the SIT and the Delhi Police Commissioner for these serious lapses.

The Inquiry Committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor, in any case, inspired no one’s confidence and hasn’t even pretended that it was doing its job. Neither has the shameless JNU Vice-Chancellor bothered to make even a show of concern for those injured or otherwise affected by the violence of 5th January. Till date, he has not even acknowledged that teachers were targeted by the masked mob. M. Jagadesh Kumar’s stubborn reluctance to respond appropriately to the crisis and the trauma created by the violence can only have one possible explanation - his criminal complicity in it. Indeed, his role in engineering the assault on those opposed to him itself needs investigating. The JNUTA GBM, therefore, repeats its demand, loud and clear, that he must be removed from his position as Vice-Chancellor. The GBM strongly condemns the inaction of the MHRD in this regard, even though the case for removal is stronger in this instance than it is ever likely to be. The GBM expresses its dismay that instead of heeding to this just and legitimate demand and reassuring the University community about the safety and security of the campus, the HRD Minister and the Chancellor of JNU have chosen to give clean chits to the VC through their statements in the media.”

“JNUTA has warned that unless the JNU VC is removed, we, the faculty members will observe a strike (hartal) on Friday, February 14, 2020, and also have a protest action at the MHRD on the same day. We have announced a protest action at the Delhi Police Headquarters on February 10, 2020, to demand answers about the January 5 attack,” said a senior faculty member in the School of Languages. As hoodlums had not just beaten up faculty members but also barged into the residences of at least three, none wanted to be named.

Professor Sucharita Sen had filed a plea in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Ankita Lal in Delhi seeking registration of FIR in the case about the attack on students and faculty members. Sen was hit in the head when the hoodlums hurled stones and was left bleeding profusely. On February 3, the court has sought an action taken report (ATR) from Delhi Police by March 25.

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Published: 05 Feb 2020, 7:00 PM