No biometric systems or CCTV cameras vandalised on 3, 4 Jan: RTI exposes discrepancy in JNU admin's campus violence claims

  • According to RTI activist Saurav Das, the replies furnished by the Communication and Information Services office of JNU have exposed discrepancies in the claims made by the varsity and the police.

  • He said that the main server of JNU at CIS was shut down on 3 January and had gone down the next day 'due to power supply disruption'.

  • Das also said that there is no continuous CCTV footage available from JNU’s north or main gate from 3 pm to 11 pm of 5 January.

Refuting the claims of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration and the Delhi Police in an FIR filed in view of the violence in the campus on 5 January, a Right to Information query by an activist revealed that neither the biometric systems nor CCTV cameras were damaged in the first week of January.

According to RTI activist Saurav Das, who filed the query under the 'life and liberty' clause, the replies furnished by the Communication and Information Services (CIS) office of JNU have exposed discrepancies in the claims made by the varsity and the police.

He said that the main server of JNU at CIS was shut down on 3 January and had gone down the next day "due to power supply disruption".

 No biometric systems or CCTV cameras vandalised on 3, 4 Jan: RTI exposes discrepancy in JNU admins campus violence claims

A masked mob had attacked students and teachers in JNU on 5 January. Twitter@JNUSUofficial

A member of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, Das also said that there is no continuous CCTV footage available from JNU’s north or main gate from 3 pm to 11 pm of 5 January, the day when masked men had entered the campus, and attacked students and teachers with iron rods and sledgehammers.

This seems to indicate there might be no CCTV record of the 5 January attacks.

No biometric systems, CCTV cameras were vandalised

In his RTI plea, Das had inquired about the "total number of broken/destroyed biometric systems at CIS office from 30 December, 2019 to 8 January, 2020". The CIS responded in negative.

The RTI response also stated that there are four CCTV cameras at the north or main gate of the JNU campus, although the university refused to give full details of the location of CCTV cameras citing "security reasons and concerns".

When asked for details of all vandalised CCTV cameras from 30 December till 8 January, the CIS response again was "none".

The JNU administration, in an FIR, had claimed that on 3 January, a group of students wearing masks had forcibly entered the CIS and switched off the power supply, making the servers dysfunctional, thereby affecting a range functions, including CCTV surveillance, biometric attendance and internet services.

"The main server of JNU was shut down on 3 January and had gone down the next day due to power supply disruption," read the RTI response.

In a statement, JNU vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar had claimed that the violence on 5 January had its origins in the vandalism which occurred on 3 and 4 January. He also alleged that the broken biometric systems affected winter semester registration.

Kumar had claimed that the mob had entered the campus on 4 January itself, about 24 hours before unprecedented violence was unleashed on the campus and Left-affiliated students were attacked.

'Server room remained intact'

The RTI confirmed that "the room which has servers of the CCTVs had not been vandalised by the students. It was a different room. Not the one which was claimed by the VC as having been destroyed."

Incidentally, vice-chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar had also claimed that biometric system was broken. "Nothing of that sort happened," Das said, citing the RTI report.

These answers assume significance since Kumar had claimed that the 5 January violence – in which about 40 to 50 masked and armed men and women had attacked students – was a fallout of what happened the previous day.

'CCTV servers not in CIS office, but data centre'

There seems to be some ambiguity about the location of the servers where CCTV camera footage is stored.

Asked whether the CIS Office contained the servers of the CCTV cameras, the RTI response said they are "not located in CIS office but located in data centre". However, in response to another query, it said, "The location of server room is at Hall number 3, CIS, SBT Building of JNU." It is not clear if these servers were affected by the alleged vandalism at the CIS office.

With regard to the fibre-optic cables used in the CIS servers, the RTI response said 17 such cables were damaged around 1 pm on 4 January.

The RTI reply also said "the details of locations of CCTV cameras cannot be provided due to security reasons and concerns".

Das received the reply to a RTI filed by him on 9 January.

The RTI also asked details of the total number of times the JNU website was not functioning due to technical snag or problem since 25 December, 2019, to 8 January, 2020.

The reply stated that the varsity's website was functioning during this period since it is "critical" and "a logical public face of the university".

"It was running from alternate backup arrangement during this period," the varsity said in its response.

Reply does not deviate from facts, claims JNU

Responding to allegations of discrepancies in the varsity administration's claims about vandalism in its server room based on the RTI query, the varsity Wednesday told PTI that its reply to the RTI was related to the specific location and questions sought by the applicant.

"As per the complaint filed by administration on 3 January, 2020, about the incident in CIS Data Centre, JNU has not claimed about damage to servers on that day. The RTI answers are correct and specific to the questions asked," the varsity said.

The RTI response also clearly states that servers are located at CIS Data Centre not in CIS office, which seems to be "conspicuously ignored while highlighting the matter in the media", the varsity claimed on Wednesday, adding, "All FIRs and other complaints filed with police are in-line with the actual incidents that took place on 3 January."

With inputs from PTI 

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Updated Date: Jan 22, 2020 17:32:10 IST