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JNU: Row Over Two FIRs Filed On Night Of Mob Attack, V-C Appeals To Students But Protests Continue

Opposition Parties And Student Groups Alleged That Instead Of Nabbing The Culprits Of January 5 Violence, The Victims Were Being Targeted By Fake FIRs Which Were Registered As An Afterthought.

PTI | Updated on: 08 Jan 2020, 12:02:31 AM
Demonstrators in Chandigarh shout slogans during a protest against the attacks on students of Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday.

Demonstrators in Chandigarh shout slogans during a protest against the attacks on students of Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

New Delhi:

Two days after the mob attack in JNU, no arrests have been made by the Delhi police which received more flak on Tuesday as it came to light that twin FIRs were registered on the night of the campus violence based on the varsity's previous vandalism complaints naming injured students union president Aishe Ghosh and others.

Opposition parties and student groups alleged that instead of nabbing the culprits of January 5 violence, the "victims" were being targeted by "fake" FIRs which were registered as an "afterthought".

According to preliminary investigation, "most of those involved in the violence were students (insiders) and they went knocking on specific doors of certain hostels," a police official said on condition of anonymity, adding they were trying to record the statements of injured students and teachers.

In his first remarks after the January 5 rampage by masked attackers, Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, who is facing demands of resignation from the Left-controlled students union, said the incident was unfortunate and appealed to the students to put the past behind, but only broached superficially the allegations of delayed action by authorities during the violence.

"If there is a law and order situation we do not rush to police immediately. We see if our security can handle. On Sunday, when we saw that there is a possibility of aggressive behaviour among students, we informed the police," he told reporters.

Protests continued against the attack at the JNU, with the students union alleging that the two FIRs showed the varsity administration was colluding with the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Left-affiliated student groups and ABVP have blamed each other for the violence.

In an alumni meeting at the university, former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and activist Kavita Krishnan slammed the Centre over the violence, alleging the government was trying to destory the Constitution. In the evening, Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone also visited the varsity to express solidarity with the students, but left without addressing the gathering.

A march by students and faculty was organised at the varsity during which slogans were raised against the ABVP, the Vice Chancellor and the Centre.

The Opposition too questioned the filing of FIRs and slammed the police, with Congress saying saying "40 hours since the violent attacks in JNU and the Delhi Police has failed to arrest a single perpetrator, despite the glaring evidence."

"Is the police so incompetent under Amit Shah? Instead they file an FIR against a victim of the attack. Disgraceful (sic)," the party said on its Twitter handle.

The two FIRs were registered by Delhi Police on the night of January 5, within a span of few minutes, after taking cognisance of complaints filed by JNU authorities naming office bearers of student union including Ghosh and JNUSU Vice President Saket Moon in connection with alleged vandalism on premises on January 1 and 4.

Incidentally, this was also the time when police had been called in to restore law and order in the university and several injured students, including Ghosh, were rushed to hospital.

The general diary reference in police records showed the FIRs were registered at 8.44 pm and 8.49 pm on complaints filed by the varsity's security department on January 3 and January 4 respectively. These were related to alleged incidents of vandalism on January 1 and January 4 respectively.

Ghosh or any students' union office bearer's name does not figure in the accused column of the FIRs though they were named in the complaints. Police said the two FIRs were on Tuesday transferred to the Crime Branch, which is probing the January 5 violence.

Moon alleged that the administration is selectively targeting some students and denied their involvement in the vandalism of server room.

"I am not scared of the vice-chancellor. Even if they file 70 FIRs for 70 days of protests against the fee hike, we will continue our struggle," Ghosh said.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury alleged that the FIRs have been filed as an "after thought".

Without naming Ghosh, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said it was "unfortunate" that a case had been filed against the "girl who had 18-19 stitches on her head" instead of registering cases of trespass and attempt to murder on the attackers. "This is injustice, I condemn this behaviour. It is completely wrong," he said.

Delhi Police Crime Branch, meanwhile, sought details of students and faculty members who were injured in the violence from the varsity administration to record their statements and also requested for a separate room in the campus for carrying out investigation related to the Sunday attack, police said.

The Crime Branch team also met the Vice Chancellor.

Police also issued a public appeal seeking pictures, footage or any information related to Sunday's violence in JNU campus that left 34 people injured even as forensic teams looked for evidence.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Western Range) Shalini Singh, who is heading a fact-finding committee, visited the JNU campus and spoke to students and teachers.

A fringe right-wing group, Hindu Raksha Dal, has purportedly taken responsibility for the attack on JNU students in a video posted on social media.

Security has been strengthened in the campus following the violence. Police personnel in large numbers were present near various gates of the university to ensure that no untoward incident takes place.

Police has barricaded the gates and only visitors with valid identity cards are being allowed entry.

An FIR has been registered against unidentified people in connection with the January 5 violence.

Police is taking the help of video footage as well as face recognition system to identify the culprits, sources said.

"Since there are no CCTV cameras installed inside the hostel, we are relying on the accounts of the witnesses and the videos that were shot by the witnesses on their mobile phones. We will also have to verify the authenticity of the videos that went viral on social media platforms," an officer said.

Demonstrations over the attack were held in various parts of the country. Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and its rival National Students' Union of India clashed in Ahmedabad during a protest organised by students' wing of the Congress outside the office of the RSS-affiliated outfit in the city's Paldi area, leaving 10 people injured.

Both the student bodies blamed each other for the incident. While Gujarat NSUI said it general secretary Nikhil Savani sustained serious head injuries, ABVP alleged it was a "pre-planned" attack by NSUI, similar to the one in JNU, and more than five members were injured.

In Mumbai, police said people protesting against the JNU violence since Sunday night were evicted from Gateway of India and "relocated" to the Azad Maidan on Tuesday morning as roads were getting blocked and tourists and common people were facing problems.

In a brief statement, JNU Vice Chancellor Kumar said, "Our heart goes out to all injured students. The incident (violence) is unfortunate. I would like to tell students that JNU campus is a secure place.

"I urge all students to come back to the campus. Let us put the past behind," he said.

After the attack there has been a demand for several quarters, including the students and faculty, for his resignation.

In a scathing statement, the JNU students union alleged the administration has remained "completely silent" on the January 5 attack on students and teachers, "and instead has now tried to criminalise the peaceful students of JNU, completely exposing the saffron nexus of the ABVP-Administration".

"Not only has the administration washed its hands off the violence committed by its henchmen, it has tried to blame the overwhelming majority of protesting students and file another fake complaint," it said.

The students outfit again demanded removal of the VC and an inquiry against him. "The Delhi Police and the Home Ministry also must be held accountable," it said.

An official said HRD Ministry officials will meet the Vice Chancellor on Wednesday over the violence on campus by a masked mob and other issues affecting the normal functioning of the varsity.

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First Published : 08 Jan 2020, 12:02:31 AM

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