Reports have it that last Sunday, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) allegedly barged into the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus like a Blackshirt squad — there were, in fact, some clad in black and all their faces were masked — and proceeded to savagely beat students and staff, and vandalise property.
But more on that later.
In the aftermath of this attack, facts have come to light that will make many ordinary citizens wonder whether the rule of law has been temporarily kept in abeyance and whether the sword arms of the State have remit to do as they please, with impunity.
These questions cannot be avoided given certain statements that have been made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. On Monday, Bengal BJP chief and Lok Sabha member Dilip Ghosh suggested the Left was just getting back in the same coin what it had meted out to other students' organisations in the long years it governed Bengal. Later, the MP, in his inimitably urbane manner, suggested that the whole incident was staged and asked for tests to determine whether the red fluid on Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) president Aishe Ghosh's head was really blood.
On the same day, Union Home Minister Amit Shah avoided direct comment about the attack. Instead, he made a roundabout reference to the Left: "Those students raising anti-India slogans…Friends, should they not be thrown in jail? Say it aloud, should they or should they not be thrown in jail?"
In the couple of days that have passed since the attack, Aishe, who had been spearheading a movement against a fee hike and who took some of the worst beatings at the hands of the thugs that resulted in five stitches to the head, had two first information reports filed against her. With 19 others, she was charged with vandalising the server room in the university and attacking university guards. This was prior to the attacks on her, for which, needless to say, no arrests have been made.
Why have none of the attackers been identified, questioned or arrested and charged? We know that JNU students and teachers had been savagely beaten. Someone must have done it. The police's main alibi is that the places in which the attacks happened — including, incidentally, two hostels — were not covered by CCTV. They were scanning footage from the main gate but had found nothing. If two hostels didn't have CCTV coverage, shouldn't someone be sacked?
However, a whole lot of video clips have been floating around in the digital world showing armed thugs assaulting people; joint secretary of Delhi’s ABVP unit Anima Sonkar has confirmed that two people shown in a video clip carrying sticks or rods on the JNU campus were ABVP members; and there is the testimony of the people assaulted, some of whom have named specific attackers. As in the case of Aishe Ghosh and 19 of her fellow students.
The sequence of events is important here. The JNU administration complains four days before Sunday in respect of the two misdemeanours. And the police takes cognisance of them and engages itself in the serious business of converting them into FIRs — which, of course, is its job normally — while mayhem is ensuing less than a kilometre away.
And then there is a stirring debate about when exactly the JNU authorities reported the matter to the police and asked for assistance. Hairs have been split for no purpose because when the police reached the JNU campus what it did amounted to little more than a row of beans. The cops may as well have been home on a cold January evening warming their feet and having a hot cup of tea.
There's a word in the English language that sums up their efforts to protect people under attack: Complicity.
The problem is that by sealing off the campus with the attackers still inside, the police prevented people from escaping the tender ministrations of the masked thugs. There's another word in the English language to describe this kind of action: Abetment.
What of the JNU administration, headed by vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar? Firstly, there is the small matter of the time taken to call the police to protect people and apprehend assailants. The issue has been admirably fudged. In any case, it is fairly clear that the SOS was delayed and, as mentioned, ultimately pointless.
On the day of the attack, the JNU authorities in effect blamed the students for getting themselves beaten up the Blackshirts. A statement said: "…by the time police came, the students who are for the registration were beaten up by a group of agitating students opposing the registration." Masked and carrying lethal weapons with intent, one supposes. This statement can't be glorified by being called a version of the events of Sunday. It was a pack of lies meant only to protect those who had gone to the campus (or perhaps been invited there), with mayhem aforethought.
The script is familiar: Blame the victims; if possible, call them anti-national.
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Updated Date: Jan 08, 2020 14:57:32 IST