A day after thousands of students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) forced Delhi Police to lodge as many as eight FIRs against professor Atul Johri—who has been accused by several students of sexual harassment—students alleged that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliated student organisation Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) was spreading lies to divide the student community along ideological lines.
Accusing the JNU administration of a cover-up, many students expressed their views on condition of anonymity and said that such instances of ‘sexual violence’ have their roots in the right-wing culture on the campus.
A post-Doctoral student from the Centre for West Asian Studies said that the ABVP has discreetly been trying to create the Left vs Right divide to divert attention. “Since the charges of sexual harassment are serious, they have not been able to defend the professor. But they have been trying to divide the students by pointing towards the ideological leaning of the protesters.”
JNU Student’s Union president Geeta Kumari said ABVP has been telling students that Johri has resigned from his post, and the Vice Chancellor had directed him to put in his papers.
“But it not true. He has resigned from just two of the various posts he holds in the university,” said Kumari, while emphasising on Johri’s alleged closeness with the VC. “It is known to all,” she added.
Slamming the role of JNU administration for diluting the case, Kumari said that the administration has filed an FIR against JNUSU office bearers and JNU students on Friday, March 16.
“JNUSU has been protesting the hostel fee hike at the Dean of Students office. The Delhi police readily filed a complaint against the protesters. The time and context of this fabricated FIR makes clear the collusion between Delhi police and JNU administration. It is clearly motivated to silence us,” she said.
Blaming ABVP for misconstruing facts, a student activist associated with the Congress- affiliated student union, National Students' Union of India (NSUI), said they have adopted the same method they did in 2016, when they alleged that Kanhaiya Kumar and his friends raised anti-India slogans.
It must be mentioned that JNU has a unique mechanism to address cases related to gender discrimination and sexual harassment—the Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH). But Vice Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar has been allegedly accused of dissolving the GSCASH to defend RSS and ABVP sympathisers.
“He constituted an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to address all issues pertaining to sexual harassment but it has no legitimacy among students. No one seems to have any faith in ICC,” alleged Geeta Kumari.
A student from the School of Social Sciences (SSS) said, on the condition of anonymity, that the lack of any internal redressal system led many students to approach the police directly. “Earlier, cases were resolved within the campus. GSCASH would have summoned both the sides and examined the case. if someone was found guilty, disciplinary actions such as banning them from classes were taken, but now students do not have any choice except reporting to the police because of the new VC.”
National Herald attempted to contact VC Jagadesh Kumar, but did not get any response from his office. Students alleged that he has not been interacting with the students on this issue, “otherwise he has been very vocal”.
With inputs by Zaheeb Ajmal.