JNU violence: WhatsApp groups tied to ABVP show members were circulating plans to attack; group denies role in campus raid

  • It appears, from several accounts of students present on campus, that the attack was coordinated on WhatsApp groups, many of them tied to the ABVP.

  • Another member is Nidhi Tripathi, ABVP presidential candidate for JNUSU elections, 2017, according to her Facebook profile.

  • Masked goons, armed with sticks and rods, broke into the campus and ran amok, injuring several people, including Aishe Ghosh, JNUSU president, and professor Sucharita Sen.

On Sunday, 5 January, mayhem broke out at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Masked goons, armed with sticks and rods, broke into the campus and ran amok, injuring several people, including Aishe Ghosh, JNUSU president, and professor Sucharita SenIt appears, from several accounts of students present on campus, that the attack was coordinated on WhatsApp groups, many of them tied to the ABVP.

Soon after the news of violence from JNU was circulated, a screenshot of a WhatsApp group went viral. The group was titled “Friends of RSS”. In it, a man identified as Yogendra Shaurya Bhardwaj shared a link of a group chat, at around 5.30 pm. He followed it up with, “Please join this group for unity against Left terror. Now we must catch them and beat them up.”

 JNU violence: WhatsApp groups tied to ABVP show members were circulating plans to attack; group denies role in campus raid

Masked miscreants armed with sticks roaming around campus, at JNU. Image courtesy JNUSU official

Bhardwaj’s Twitter bio says he was ABVP joint secretary of JNU in 2017-18. The account is now deactivated.

One of the members of the group Friends of RSS is Dhananjay Singh. He is the chief proctor, who is responsible for the law and order within the campus. This reporter tried to get in touch with him but he did not answer his phone. He was quoted by HuffPost India as saying: “There are some WhatsApp groups to which my name has been added in which I have never been active. I do not know these people. I will try to find out.”

Another member is Nidhi Tripathi, ABVP’s presidential candidate for JNUSU elections, 2017, according to her Facebook profile.

After Bhardwaj messages on the group, a member tells him that 25-30 of “us are here”. “Ensure the entry of DU people from the side of Khajan Singh swimming,” he adds.

For those unacquainted with the campus layout, the Khazan Singh Swimming Academy, which is situated inside the JNU campus, has a separate entry gate.

On Truecaller, this number is traced to Vikas Patel. His twitter bio says he is an ABVP member. In September 2018, he was also accused of manhandling and molesting a woman belonging to an opposing ideology. Another member of the group chipping in with options to enter is Sandeep Singh, a known ABVP member.

In the group “Unity against Left”, which Bhardwaj asked to join, two members at 8.40 pm consider “doing something at the gate”. Immediately after this message was circulated, Swaraj Abhijan party president Yogendra Yadav and journalists, who were present outside JNU, were roughed. Around the same time, several new members entered the WhatsApp group. Since the link of the group had become public, those that weren’t supposed to be in it added themselves to the group. A member of the group says, “There are leftists in this group.” That number on Truecaller throws up Onkar Srivastava. On his Facebook page, he says he has been the vice president of ABVP JNU in 2015-16.

At 8.50 pm, in the group Left Terror Down Down, a man identified as Yashaswi Harsh says, “It was fun to beat up the traitors.” He is the member of ABVP’s Madhya Pradesh unit.

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This reporter searched some of the other numbers cited as admins of that group. Some showed links to ABVP students. They include Sumanta Sahu, associated with ABVP. His Facebook profile has several posts congratulating and thanking the organisation for supporting him. Venkat Choubey, vice president ABVP, according to his Facebook profile, is another. Velentina Brahma, associated with ABVP, is the third. On Twitter, she claims to have been attacked by “leftist goons”, and has posted a picture of her bruised fingers. And Manish Jangid, secretary of ABVP at JNU, according to his Facebook profile, was also on that group.

However, while speaking to NDTV, the ABVP categorically denied being involved in the violence that rocked the Central university in the heart of Delhi injuring many on Sunday.The group also told CNN News 18 that it "does not promote violence".

The student organisation on Sunday blamed the Left and claimed that over 25 cadres were injured in the unprecedented violence.

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Updated Date: Jan 06, 2020 15:01:08 IST