JNUSU president, assaulted by mob, booked in 2 FIRs
When masked assailants armed with sticks, rods and hammers were running riot inside Jawarharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Sunday evening, police at the Vasant Kunj North station were registering FIRs against JNU students, including union president Aishe Ghosh, who suffered head injuries after being beaten with iron rods.
Police at the station — which is responsible for ensuring order in the south Delhi university campus — filed two FIRs against Ghosh and other student leaders for allegedly manhandling security personnel and destroying university property on January 1 and 4.
The FIRs were filed at 8.44 pm and 8.49 pm on Sunday based on the complaint of the JNU chief security officer Shyam Singh. At the time, Ghosh was being treated in the trauma centre at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences with deep gashes on her head.
A number of other teacher and students were on their way to the hospital, and a large posse of police personnel had just entered the campus, after waiting at the gates for at least three hours as the mob beat up students and faculty, and smashed hostel property.
The first FIR named eight students while the second named 22. Ghosh was mentioned in both. No arrests, however, were made in connection with the violence, and the police FIR into the January 5 incident mentioned “unknown persons”.
Ghosh said on Wednesday that she and her union members were not involved in any violence. “We have not done any violence. In fact, on January 4, it’s the ABVP [Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the RSS] who attacked the protesting students including JNUSU general secretary Satish Yadav. The police should first prove our involvement in the vandalism and violence,” she said.
Ghosh previously alleged that at least three senior police officers didn’t respond to her distress calls on Sunday.
The ABVP denied that the masked men and women were members of the outfit, or that it had any role to play in the violence, and alleged that a number of its workers were beaten up by Left-leaning students.
Deputy commissioner of police Devender Arya dismissed allegations that the police were filing FIRs instead of protecting students. “The complaints were received on Saturday night. I directed the police station staff to register FIRs around Sunday noon, soon after the incidents and complaints were brought to my notice. A preliminary inquiry was conducted and the spot of incidents was visited. The entire process took some time,” he said.
The JNU administration sent the two complaints to the station house officer (SHO) of Vasant Kunj police station on January 3 and 4. The FIRs were filed on the evening of January 5.
In the first complaint, Singh alleged that at around 1pm, a group of students wearing masks entered the office of the Centre for Information System (CIS) and switched off the power supply before evicting the staff there. The students also made the servers dysfunctional, reads the complaint filed by the security officer. In his complaint, the officer named Ghosh, JNUSU vice-president Saket Moon, and six other students.
In the second complaint, Singh accused Ghosh, Moon and other students of damaging the server in the CIS room and manhandling the security guards the same morning . The security officer also alleged that the students of cutting the fibre-optic cable of the server and breaking the glass panes of the CIS building. The complaint was also marked to the police commissioner and the district’s deputy commissioner of police (DCP).
The officer who prepared the FIRs noted the timing of the FIR filing as 8.44 pm and 8.49 pm on January 5.
According to eye witnesses, violence first broke out shortly after 4.30 pm on Sunday afternoon as students were leaving a demonstration against a proposed fee hike. By 6 pm, students and teachers reported mobs of masked men and women armed with sticks, rods and hammers running towards them, beating people up and smashing property. Some students also reported an earlier instance of violence at Periyar hostel at around 3 pm.
Videos shot by students showed shattered glass and broken furniture at Sabarmati hostel, and injured pupils cowering for safety from the assailants who shouted slogans threatening “death to traitors”. The violence continued until about 8.30 pm, around the time the police entered the campus and conducted a flag march.
It is unclear why the police took time to enter the campus. While a suo-motu FIR registered by police mentions the receipt of a note from the JNU administration asking it to intervene around 4 pm, Arya said permission to enter the campus was received at 7.45 pm.
The JNUSU condemned the FIRs. “This is another instance of this administration’s attempt to criminalise the democratic protest led by JNUSU while at the same time protecting the ABVP who was involved in the Sunday’s violent incident,” said Moon.
Ambuj Mishra, member of the ABVP’s JNU unit and a PhD student, said, “It is the Left that has engaged in targeted attack and now they are trying to garner sympathy. Our members were dragged and beaten outside Periyar hostel mercilessly.”