Left students led by JNU Students Union president Aishe Ghosh behind violence, say cops
Police said that union president Ghosh was a part of the mob of masked faces that attacked students in “specific rooms” inside the Periyar hostel. Police released a blurred video grab of a woman whom they claimed was Ghosh, standing with some masked men and women.Updated: Jan 11, 2020 02:34 IST
Five days after an armed mob of masked men and women assaulted students and teachers inside the JNU campus, Delhi Police on Friday named nine students it said were responsible for the violence, with several of them belonging to Left-wing groups and including JNU Students Union president Aishe Ghosh, who was attacked and suffered a head injury.
The police version of the events, which is different from the prevailing narrative of the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad or ABVP being responsible for the violence of Sunday evening, was immediately contested by JNUSU. The union’s general secretary, Satish Yadav, said: “Police are trying to give a new turn to the case by naming all Left organisations in their distorted investigation. The members of Left organisations were beaten up by the ABVP. Police did not even use the words ABVP in the briefing. It’s a politically motivated investigation and the briefing was held to name JNUSU members.”
To be sure, the police said they are still probing the case and trying to identify others responsible for the attack.
The nine suspects, whose photos (mostly cell phone video grabs of the violence) and names were released by police are: Aishe Ghosh, Chunchun Kumar, Pankaj Mishra, Vaskar Vijay Mech, Sucheta Talukdar, Priya Ranjan, Vikas Patel, Yogendra Bhardwaj, and Dolan Samanta.
The police said they will ask the nine to join the investigation for their involvement in different incidents of campus violence in those three days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – last week.
Police said that union president Ghosh was a part of the mob of masked faces that attacked students in “specific rooms” inside the Periyar hostel. Police released a blurred video grab of a woman whom they claimed was Ghosh, standing with some masked men and women. Ghosh denied the allegations and said the police should present proof against her.
The police investigation doesn’t seem to have covered subsequent events at Sabarmati hostel; the influx of unknown masked men and women into the campus; and the exit of this group.
Joy Tirkey, head of the police’s special investigation team (SIT) probing the violence, said the students involved in the violence were from four parties -- Students Front of India, All India Students Federation, All India Students Association, and Democratic Students Federation. The officer did not name Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad or any suspect from the right-wing party, which has been accused of perpetrating the violence on Sunday evening.
Based on accounts from students and visuals available on the internet, HT reported on Tuesday that two suspects, Vikas Patel and Yogendra Bhardwaj, could be linked to the ABVP. The cellphone numbers of Patel and Bhardwaj were seen on two WhatsApp groups, with their posts on Sunday purportedly showing attempts by them to organise and coordinate Sunday’s attacks.However, Tirkey did not name the ABVP.
Police are also yet to identify a masked woman whose video has been widely circulated on social media. Many students from the JNU Students Union have said that she is a Delhi University student with links to the ABVP, a charge the ABVP has denied. In the video, the woman is seen threatening students inside the campus.
Police did not explain how the mob fled the campus. Tirkey said the mob may have taken advantage of the dark and fled into the jungles on campus.
The ABVP said that they are not in touch with Patel or Bhardwaj. Nidhi Tripathi, student of JNU and ABVP national general secretary, confirmed, however, that Bhardwaj created the WhatsApp group.
“Patel’s photograph is not very clear. As far as Bhardwaj is concerned, he did make that WhatsApp group to ensure we could help each other as violence spread out on the campus. He quit the group on seeing such wrong messages. Police should conduct an inquiry. We will cooperate with the police,” she said.
Narrating the sequence of events inside the campus last week, Tirkey said that four student organisations -- Students Front of India (SFI), All India Students Federation (AISF), All India Students Association (AISA), Democratic Students Federation (DSF) -- were against winter registration for students. The students were preventing registration and other work on campus as part of their protest against increased fee. The officer said that many students wanted to register but the members of these four outfits threatened them.
“At around 1pm on January 3, some members of the four outfits went inside the server room and tampered with the server. The security personnel (there) were manhandled. The registration process was stalled. The university filed a complaint,” he said.
The officer said that the following day (January 4) some people entered the server room by breaking the rear glass door and damaged the server, after which the authorities filed another police complaint.
“At around 11.30pm on January 5 (Sunday), four students wanted to register and were seated on a bench in front of the School of Social Sciences. A group reached there and assaulted them. The security personnel who tried to intervene also sustained injuries. After this, at around 3.45pm, the students of these four organisations went to Periyar hostel. They masked their faces. Some members of the JNUSU were also there including their president.”
Officer Tirkey said that after the attacks at Periyar hostel, a similar mob with masked faces, attacked students at a peace meeting near the Sabarmati hostel in the evening.
“This mob later went inside the Sabarmati hostel. Here too they targeted specific rooms. They knew where to go. There are a lot of internal elements involved. We are investigating all the three incidents of violence,” he said before revealing the names of the nine students.
The officer said that during the investigation, WhatsApp groups such as one named Unity Against Left were formed at around the same time to mobilise people, when the violence was reported at Sabarmati. Police said they are probing the contents of the WhatsApp group.