Nine JNU staff who saved 30 students from being attacked during Sunday’s violence
Monica Bishnoi, president of Sabarmati hostel, acknowledged that the mess staff, had saved a number of students when there were no wardens and security guards around.Updated: Jan 09, 2020 13:47 IST
When a masked mob — armed with sticks, iron rods and sledgehammers — barged into Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) Sabarmati hostel on Sunday, a group of nine hostel mess staff stepped forward to shield at least 30 students from being attacked.
More than 30 persons, including JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, were injured in this violent attack, with Sabarmati hostel witnessing the maximum vandalism.
One of the staff, Radhe Shyam, who has been working in hostel mess as a helper since 1985, said he had never witnessed violence of such magnitude in his life. Shyam said he saw a mob running towards the hostel on Sunday at around 6:30pm.
“I was starting my scooter to go somewhere when I saw them. Their faces were covered and they were carrying lathis. I fell down with the scooter and injured my foot. However, I quickly got back up and rushed to the hostel building and asked students standing in the corridors to run towards the mess. Within minutes, the mob started breaking doors and windows. I heard screams all around,” he said.
While preparing dinner for the hostel residents on Wednesday, Shyam and his colleagues recalled Sunday’s horror in detail, which they said was etched very clearly in their memory. “Those who were roaming in the corridors rushed to the mess. There were around 30 students. Some of them were from other hostels, who were visiting their friends. We first locked the entry and exits of the mess and then hid those students in a room, where we store our groceries,” he said.
Monica Bishnoi, president of Sabarmati hostel, acknowledged that the mess staff, had saved a number of students when there were no wardens and security guards around. “They risked their lives just to save the students. They could have run away from another gate and saved themselves,” she said.
Rakesh Kumar, who also works as a helper in the mess, was attacked by the mob on his left leg. “I was left outside. The left side of my body is paralysed because of which I could not run,” he said, showing bruises on his leg.
Hema, a helper at the mess, added that the armed mob banged on the doors and windows of the mess multiple times. “It’s so scary. There were many girls hiding in the mess store room. I was so scared for their safety,” she said.
Shyam said that after 30 minutes, the mob left the hostel. “I went out and checked if the mob had left or not. The students were so scared that they did not leave the mess till 10pm,” he said.
The mess staff also walked the visitors to their hostels late in the night. “How could I let the girls go alone after the mayhem?” said Hema. On Wednesday, a resident of Koyna hostel had come to thank Hema. “She not only walked me to the hostel, but also made sure I was well fed before leaving,” said the student, who is pursuing her Masters degree.
Amartya Sen criticises police
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Wednesday rallied behind the JNU students who were attacked inside the campus and criticised the role of police in dealing with violence saying there was a “big absence of justice in the matter”.
Speaking to a Bengali TV news channel on Wednesday, Sen questioned how those who were beaten up by “masked outsiders” were named in the FIR lodged by the Delhi Police. On the Citizenship Amendment Act, Sen said it should be scrapped.
The professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University said, “Some outsiders came and tortured the students of the (Jawaharlal Nehru) University and indulged in lawlessness there. The University authorities could not stop it and even the police could not come on time.
Right aligned teacher’s body blames students
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Federation (JNUTF) — a right inclined teachers’ body — Wednesday alleged that students who were agitating against the fee hike and boycotting registration were responsible for Sunday’s violence on campus.
The teachers’ body requested all stakeholders to maintain peace and restore academic activities on the campus.
The JNU students’ union (JNUSU) had alleged that some members of the JNUTF were involved in the violence took place on January 4 and 5.
Ashwini Mohapatra, chairperson Centre for West Asian Studies, who was named by JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh for manhandling students, said, “The January 5 violence was neither sporadic nor spontaneous. This was rather a culmination of a series of episodes of threats and acts of violence. The incidence of violence started from October 28, 2019, when a section of students had begun their strike against the fee hike.”