Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, under fire from students and faculty members for inaction when masked people unleashed violence inside the campus on 5 January, on Tuesday appealed to "put the past behind", even as the Delhi Police filed two separate FIRs against JNU student union president Aishe Ghosh, who sustained a head injury in the incident.
Meanwhile, 48 hours after the incident which left at least 34 people injured, the police is yet to make a single arrest in the case, despite evidence that RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) was at least partly involved in Sunday's violence. An ABVP member, Anima Sonkar, also stated that two men purportedly seen carrying rods in a video made during the attack on JNU were associated with the student body.
Hindu Raksha Dal, a far-Right group, issued a statement claiming responsibility for the assault. However, no one from the organisation has been arrested yet.
Students and faculty members were assaulted on Sunday evening after a mob went on a rampage, attacking students with sticks and iron rods and vandalising property. Reportedly, there was an atmosphere of unrest in the campus for a few days preceding the incident over the sustained protest against the proposed fee hike for the varsity's hostel along with demonstrations against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
A day after JNU students, faculty, and prominent alumni called for Kumar's resignation for loopholes in the administration's response after the violence began in the campus, the vice-chancellor issued a brief statement calling the incident "unfortunate" and urging students who have left the campus in fear, to come back.
JNU VC MJ Kumar: Around 4:30 pm (on 5th Jan) we came to know that group of students were moving aggressively towards hostel area. Then we sent our security guards to assess&control situation, but more students gathered. Immediately, police was contacted. Situation was contained https://t.co/B5voHJgGzT pic.twitter.com/6KGamvmnHg
— ANI (@ANI) January 7, 2020
"Our heart goes out to all injured students. The incident (violence) is unfortunate. I would like to tell students that the JNU campus is a secure place. I urge all students to come back to the campus. Let us put the past behind. Our campus is known for debates and discussions to resolve any issues. Violence is not a solution. We will find every opportunity to make sure that normalcy returns to the university," he said.
Kumar also told the media that the campus has its own security, which undertakes the responsibility to contain a law and order situation first.
"If there is a law and order situation, we do not rush to the police immediately. We see if our security can handle it. The campus has its own security. On Sunday, when we saw that there is a possibility of aggressive behaviour among students, we informed the police," he said. The administration has been criticised for dillydallying on calling the police to intervene and bring the situation under control.
Later on Tuesday evening, Kumar said, "There were rumours that some wardens resigned. Our wardens haven't resigned. Some protesting students surrounded our wardens, shouted on them and humiliated them. Is it a way to have any dialogue?"
Referring to the boycott JNUSU had called for against the exam registration process in protest of the fee hike, Kumar said, "The registration process has been restarted. Students can register for the winter semester now. Let us make a new beginning."
FIRs filed against JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, others
According to sources in the Delhi Police, an investigation has revealed that some insiders and some outsiders were involved in the violence, ANI reported.
The police has also come under flak for reaching after the mob had dispersed. The force faced more criticism on Tuesday when FIRs were registered against Ghosh.
The FIRs have been filed for allegedly vandalising the server room of the college and attacking staff members. Both the FIRs were filed against Ghosh on 5 January, which is when the violence erupted.
According to the JNU security department, on 1 January, a group of students wearing masks on their faces forcibly entered the office of the centre for information system located in a building near the Administration Building.
Including Ghosh, the police have filed FIRs against eight students, Geeta Kumari, Vivek Kumar Pandey, Surya Prakash, Satish Chandra Yadav, Saket Moon, Sarika Chaudhary and Ameksha Priyadarshini, in connection with the case.
"They switched off the power supply and evicted all the technical staff working there and made servers dysfunctional. They obstructed and stopped the public servants from doing the duties they pushed, threatened, abused, and chased the staff out of the office ad server room. Subsequently, they locked the room and squatted at the door and did not let the staff enter the server room," the university officials alleged in the complaint.
The second FIR was filed against Ghosh and 19 others for allegedly attacking security guards and vandalising the server room of the JNU on 4 January.
In the complaint filed by the JNU administration, the university alleged that the accused were involved in physical violence and pushed the women guards, verbally abused them and threatened them of dire consequences if they opened the lock of university's communication and information (CIS) office.
"They illegally trespassed the University property with the criminal intent to damage the public property. They damaged servers and made it dysfunctional. They also damaged fibre optic power supplies and broke the biometric systems inside the room," the University officials alleged.
Protests continue against JNU violence, CAA, proposed NRC
While protests continued in solidarity with JNU and against the CAA and proposed NRC project of the Centre across the country, one such rally of the National Students' Union of India (NSUI) turned violent after members clashed with ABVP members in Gujarat's Ahmedabad on Tuesday morning.
The incident took place during the protest organised by NSUI, the students' wing of the Congress, outside the office of the RSS-affiliated ABVP in the city's Paldi area. The police later rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control, PTI reported, adding that 10 people had sustained injuries in the clash.
Both the student bodies alleged that sticks and stones were used to attack each other, and claimed more than five members each from the two sides were injured in the clash. Gujarat NSUI general secretary Nikhil Savani sustained serious head injuries and was admitted to VS General Hospital.
In a video clip telecast by some local news channels, Savani, a close associate of Congress leader Hardik Patel, was seen being beaten by some people in the presence of policemen.
"The situation has been brought under control. As of now, no FIR has been lodged," a police official said.
"Our protest was peaceful. However, goons from the ABVP suddenly attacked us using sticks, stones and pipes. It was a pre-planned attack in the presence of police. Over five of our members, including Savani, were injured in the attack," another NSUI general secretary Bhavik Solanki said.
— Aadesh Rawal (@AadeshRawal) January 7, 2020
Mumbai's Gateway of India protests called-off; FIR against woman
On the other hand, the group that had gathered at Mumbai's Gateway of India in a protest that went on for more than 24 hours, were evicted on Tuesday morning "as roads were getting blocked and tourists and common people were facing problems", Mumbai Police was quoted by PTI as saying.
Police had appealed to protesters to shift but they didn't listen, so they were "relocated" to Azad Maidan near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the official said. Earlier, hundreds of people, including students, women and senior citizens — who assembled at the iconic Gateway of India since Sunday midnight — demanded action against those behind the JNU violence and resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
A protest march was taken out by JNU alumni, students, and teachers were stopped in front of the North Gate of the campus on Tuesday afternoon.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jan 08, 2020 00:11:44 IST