When mob ran riot in JNU: 17 cops inside, 116 at gate; 0 held
At least 17 police personnel and one patrol vehicle was stationed inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus, and another 116 were standing by at the gate, while masked men and women attacked students and teachers on Sunday evening, according to several mid-level officers who gave fresh details of the deployment at a time when the department has come under criticism for not stopping the assault or apprehending any of the suspects.
The team inside was of plain-clothes personnel posted in the campus to maintain law and order for approximately a month now, according to the officials. They are stationed inside the campus, along with a PCR van, round the clock.
There were an additional 116 policemen outside the gates between 4pm and 8pm – the most serious assaults are alleged to have taken place between 5.30pm and 7.30pm – waiting for permission to enter the campus.
“Our 15-20 personnel deployed at the administration block on Delhi high court’s order were unarmed and in plainclothes. They did their best to contain the situation but the rioters were large in numbers. The policemen used public address system to warn them and stop them,” said deputy commissioner of police (South West), Devender Arya, who denied accusations that the police did not act on time.
Around 30 JNU students, including the students’ union president Aishe Ghosh and at least one professor, sustained serious injuries in Sunday’s incident, which triggered anger at college campuses across the country.
On Tuesday, more than 48 hours after the attack, the police were yet to identify or apprehend any suspect. “Our officers outside the gate were waiting for the permission to enter the campus. By the time our teams entered the campus with reinforcement, the mob had vanished,” Arya added.
JNUSU alleged the attacks took place in front of police officials and cited images and videos that purported to show suspects leaving the campus with bats and sticks unchallenged.
“How can we expect the police to arrest anyone when they themselves were escorting them outside the campus? The police are hand-in-glove with them. We demand a judicial probe in the incident because both the police and the administration are incapable of conducting an independent inquiry,” said JNUSU vice president Saket Moon.
The police has strongly denied allegations of collusion.
Tensions had been simmering inside the campus for a couple of days, and the JNU administration has said that a group led by the JNUSU to protest a decision to hike fees was involved in acts of vandalism and clashes with other students.
Students group Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has been accused by the JNUSU of being behind the attack in the evening, much of which was focussed on the Sabarmati hostel. ABVP has refuted the allegations and in turn accused the JNUSU of carrying out an attack on students in the Periyar hostel earlier in the day.
Two other police officers, who asked not to be named, said that the first information about violence was reported around 3.45pm, when complaints came from the Periyar hostel. An inspector with 16 junior officials in plainclothes reached the hostel but the suspects had fled, these officers said, citing official records that logged Sunday’s incidents.
The assault at JNU on Sunday is now the subject of a special inquiry ordered by the Union government, to which the Delhi Police reports. Confusion over the police’s conduct grew with the FIR giving a different account of when they received the approval to enter the campus. According to the document, it was approached by the university to intervene sometime in the late afternoon (soon after 3.45pm), but it adds in the FIR that it entered the premises only three hours later.