What happened to the goons who attacked JNU early this year?

Nothing, thanks to the apathy of the police and the university’s bosses.

WrittenBy:Muhammad Tahir Shabbir
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"We are really disappointed. The incident harmed the democratic culture of the university and the administration didn’t deescalate the situation and restore normalcy. We don’t have any hope now because we know that without the administration’s complicity, it wouldn’t have been possible for the goons to unleash such mayhem. In nine months, the case hasn't progressed even 0.9 percent,” said a dejected Satish Chandra Yadav, general secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union, referring to the violent attack on the campus in January. "We are still waiting for police action. As far as I know, they have not filed a single chargesheet in the matter so far.”

He said the students’ union had been pressuring the administration to further the investigation since January, to no avail. Satish alleged that the attack was the handiwork of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the RSS, and faculty members linked to the Hindu supremacist organisation.

“A lot of ABVP members featured in the WhatsApp chat that went viral after the incident,” Satish said, referring to a WhatsApp group that apparently coordinated the January attack. “Still, they are not only staying comfortably on the campus, but also fomenting disputes. If the university’s administration had done something or asked the police to act, it would have led to some action. The administration seems to be supporting these people instead.”

On the evening of January 5, 2020, masked goons, allegedly from the ABVP, stormed the campus, vandalising property and injuring over 30 students and teachers. The ABVP dismissed the allegations and pinned the blame on leftist student groups on the campus.

After the attack, Newslaundry and Alt News revealed the identities of at least two of the masked attackers – Komal Sharma and Jayant Kumar.

Subsequently, the police launched an investigation into the attack, as did the JNU administration. Ten months later, no action has been taken against any of the attackers.

Newslaundry tried to locate Komal Sharma and Jayant Kumar, but all our efforts came to naught.

Apeksha, who is doing a PhD in cinema studies at JNU, was a victim of the violence. Her hand was fractured in the attack. After the attack, she said, some students filed a complaint against the attackers at the Vasant Kunj police station. The complaint wasn’t converted into an FIR, however. A special police team came to hear their complaint, Apeksha added, but no action was taken against the attackers.

"I gave video evidence of the involvement of JNU ABVP's Shivam Chaurasia and others to the police. Soon after the lockdown was imposed. The police have not bothered to contact us since then,” Apeksha complained. “The administration has not registered our complaint either or taken any action. Now, we don’t have much hope, not least because Dhanajay Singh, the chief proctor, was part of the WhatsApp chat that went viral after the attack. How do you expect those who themselves were complicit in the planning of the attack to take any action?

Jyoti Priyadarshini still trembles when she recalls that night. "It was a terrible incident. The violent mob, welding hockey sticks, rods and stones entered the Sabarmati hostel in the evening. As soon as they came, we formed a human chain at the gate of the women's hostel. We were really scared but we did not let them enter. I was hit by a stone during the incident," said Jyoti, who was then a postgraduate student in the foreign languages department.

She continued, "We filed a complaint but nothing happened. Several students sent a mail to Delhi police commissioner Amulya Patnaik. He just said that the matter had been forwarded. No further action was taken."

BK Suryaprakash, a visually impaired PhD candidate in Sanskrit, was studying in his Sabarmati hostel room that evening. Even he wasn’t spared by the attackers.

Asked if he kept track of the progress in the matter, Suryaprakash said, "Nothing has happened, nothing at all. When we called the police that evening, they said they would come once the attack was over. This is on record. I went to the police station for 10 consecutive days but there was no response.”

"I'm not associated with any political group, left or right. They still attacked me and ransacked my room. It appeared like the masked men were drunk. When they attacked, the power supply was cut,” he recalled.

Professor Sucharita Sen, who teaches at the Center for the Study of Regional Development, was seriously injured in the attack. She later petitioned a Delhi court over the “lackadaisical attitude” of the state machinery in investigating the attack and demanded that a chargesheet be filed against the attackers and the case expedited. The court, however, deferred the matter because of the pandemic.

There has been no progress in the matter so far, the professor said. "Separate FIRs were supposed to be registered on each complaint related to the violence but it was not done. Only one FIR has been filed covering the whole incident. And the focus is not on the attack but on finding out who caused the shutdown in the server room during protests against a fee hike before the attack happened. So everything is going in the opposite direction.”

She added, “Anyway, these days, the victims themselves are framed as accused in cases. Nothing happened to those whose involvement was clearly visible. Their photos, videos went viral. The police were on one side, the goons on the other. The police came to question me two months later. The plea I have filed in the court was also deferred twice. On one date the judge was absent. And nothing concrete could happen on the second date either.”

On the role of the university’s administration, she said, "We spend crores of rupees on security each year. It’s impossible for so many attackers to come in and escape. They were complicit in it, so it is difficult to expect them to take action.”

The JNU Teachers' Association is not optimistic about the direction of the investigation. DK Lobiyal, the association’s head, said, "Delhi police have done nothing. The special police team came to JNU and questioned a few people, that’s about it. Since the lockdown was imposed, there has been zero progress in the case. We don’t trust the police or the JNU administration because the attackers could not have entered the campus without their complicity."

Dhanajay Singh, the chief proctor, said he could not comment on the allegations against him of complicity with the attackers or on the status of the university’s investigation because it lay “outside his jurisdiction”. He explained that the university had formed a special committee to look into the incident and since he was not on it, he had no authority to speak about it.

The police appear to be avoiding questions about the matter. This correspondent visited the Vasant Kunj police station but was told the inspector in charge was out in the field. When we finally managed to speak with him, he said he was new in the job and so didn’t have any information about the investigation.

The Delhi police’s spokesperson, Ish Singhal, ducked questions about the matter saying we should speak with DCP, southwest Delhi, who was overseeing the investigation. The DCP, Devendra Arya, didn’t take our call despite repeated attempts. We then texted a detailed questionnaire to him. The story will be updated if the DCP responds.

A version of this story was previously published on Newslaundry Hindi.


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