One month on, no arrests in JNU violence

New Delhi: A month after an armed mob attacked students and teachers on JNU campus, a special police investigation team and a panel set up by the university have unearthed little about the violence that sparked an outrage and raised questions about inability of the police to control it. HT has learnt that while police are yet to make any arrests, the JNU probe committee has not even approached the victims or eyewitnesses in the last four weeks.

JNU violence

On January 5, a mob of masked men and women, carrying iron rods, sticks and a sledgehammer had assaulted students and teachers on JNU campus, injuring at least 30, while a police contingent waited outside the university gate for a formal permission by the administration to enter the campus.

The SIT set up by the Delhi police has questioned some students, including JNU students union president Aishe Ghosh, one of those injured, but one alleged suspect, identified as a student of Delhi university and a member of the ABVP, is yet to join investigation. Her questioning is important because her involvement, if confirmed, establishes the role of outsiders. In the videos circulated on social media, she is seen carrying a stick and leading a mob on the campus.

MS Education Academy

JNUSU members, who are from the Left parties, said though they have been questioned many times, police are yet to arrest anyone. JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) general secretary Satish Yadav said it is astonishing that Delhi police visited so many states and arrested Sharjeel Imam under the colonial law of sedition but they have not been able to arrest anyone in connection with the JNU mob attack case.

“The police should show the same enthusiasm and arrest the masked goons. We even helped them identify the students caught on tape, yet there is little that the police have done. Students helped them identify the female DU student, who was the most aggressive. Students had also identified her but despite that police have not questioned her. She is a member of the ABVP. This raises suspicion that police are silently supporting the attackers,” Yadav said.

A police officer, who did not wish to be named, confirmed that the suspect DU student is yet to join probe. “The SIT has questioned leaders from both sides. She will join probe. Initially there was a problem because her phone was switched off. Instead of calling female students to the station, our women officers are going to the place where the female students call us. This is a detailed investigation and is ongoing.”

Investigation

The officials of the SIT said over the last one month, they have collected evidence in the form of cell phone videos and eyewitness statement. The videos have also been sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory.

Similarly, the internal probe by the varsity too has made little progress since the day vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar constituted the committee. The committee was formed to probe the violence inside the campus. HT spoke to many students from the Left and the right leaning groups who said they were yet to be contacted by the committee to record their statement.

Monika Bishnoi, president of Sabarmati hostel at JNU, which had witnessed maximum vandalism, said no one contacted her or any other eye witness of the incident in the hostel for questioning. “Our hostel residents should technically be the first one to reach out to know about the violence. We are not being contacted by any of the committee member yet,” she said.

On January 10, five days after the violence, Mazhar Asif, chairperson of the Centre of Persian and Central Asian Studies and a committee member, had said, “We will approach students and teachers to record their accounts.”

Velentina Brahma, one of the ABVP members who received injuries in the violence, said, “I’ve no clue about the committee. I’ve not been approached by anyone to record my account.”

Another ABVP member in JNU Manish Jangid said that they are in contact with the Delhi Police’s crime branch but unaware of internal committee.

The president of the Jawaharlal Nehru Teachers Association too confirmed that the injured teachers were yet to be contacted by the committee.

Apart from Asif, the other four members of the committee are Sushant Mishra, chairperson of the Centre for French and Francophone Studies; Sudhir Pratap Singh, professor at the School of Languages; Santosh Shukla, professor at the School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies, and Bhaswati Das, professor at the Centre for Studies in Regional Development. While the other four committee members did not respond to calls and text messages, Das said she was not authorised to speak.

JNU V-C Jagadesh Kumar and registrar Pramod Kumar also did reply to calls and texts made to seek a comment.

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