New Delhi: On January 5, 2020, at round 6:30 pm, Aishe Ghosh was strolling in the direction of her hostel after attending a march organised in opposition to the hike in hostel charges on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus when a mob attacked her. Her head was smashed with a rod, and her left arm was fractured. Soon, a photograph of her blood-smeared face and a video of the assault went viral on the social media, sparking horror, condemnation and outrage.
While the mob was operating amok on campus, beating up college students, lecturers, focusing on hostellers and breaking furnishings, a contingent of police was ready exterior the primary campus gate, referred to as the North Gate. Later, senior law enforcement officials had mentioned that they didn’t go in as a result of they didn’t have the permission from the vice-chancellor — a stand which attracted widespread criticism.
A case was registered underneath sections of rioting, illegal meeting, rioting with lethal weapons, and a bit of the prevention of harm to property act in opposition to unknown individuals on the Vasant Kunj North police station. The case was transferred to the crime department later.
Five days after the assault, at a press convention, the police launched pictures of 9 college students, together with Ghosh, saying they had been concerned in violence. However, an unidentified girl who was seen with the attackers in the video was not there in the police record. She was later recognized as Komal Sharma — apparently a scholar of Daulat Ram College in Delhi University. She was allegedly linked to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) however couldn’t be traced for a number of months.
She was finally referred to as to file her assertion, in line with police.
Siddhardh Yadav, state secretary ABVP (Delhi), mentioned, “We have an active member named Komal Sharma but she is not the one who was seen in those pictures shared on social media. ABVP has been very clear about this from the beginning. We also want the person who was there among the mob to be identified and questioned.”
The police refused to share Sharma’s particulars. Authorities and college students in Daulat Ram College additionally offered no particulars about her.
The police declare to have met over 35-40 witnesses, recorded their assertion and questioned greater than 70 individuals, together with Sharma. Till date, nevertheless, not a single particular person has been arrested in reference to the violence on the campus.
Special commissioner of police (crime) Praveer Ranjan mentioned, “Three cases pertaining to last year’s violence in JNU are being probed by the crime branch. The investigation in all the three cases is in progress.”
TENSION WAS BUILDING UP
Tension was mounting on campus with the Left and Right leaning scholar outfits sparring over the boycott of semester registration as part of the protest in opposition to a hike in the hostel charges. While the Left outfits had been demanding a boycott, the Right wing teams had been demanding that the registration course of have to be continued. According to lecturers and college students, skirmishes had been happening between the 2 teams.
On January 5, a bunch of scholars and lecturers had organised a march on the T-point close to Sabarmati hostel when a mob, armed with hammers, sticks, and rods and sporting face masks, allegedly attacked them. The mob broke into a number of hostels, together with Periyar and Sabarmati, and beat up the scholars. It additionally broken a number of bikes parked exterior Sabarmati Hostel. The attackers smashed the primary glass door earlier than continuing in the direction of completely different rooms and throwing stones inside. Several college students mentioned they needed to put beds in opposition to their hostel-room doorways to guard themselves; some jumped from the balconies to flee.
In August, three JNU professors who had been injured in the January 5 assault had moved the Delhi excessive courtroom, claiming that the assaults had been “premeditated” and “coordinated”, planning for which had been executed on numerous WhatsApp teams.Two such teams – Friends of RSS and Unity in opposition to Left – had been used to mobilise the protesters, the professors had mentioned in their petition.
The police had claimed that Aishe Ghosh was herself a part of the mob that attacked “specific rooms” in Periyar hostel and launched a blurred video seize of a lady whom they claimed was Ghosh, standing with some masked women and men.
Ghosh, a member of Students Federation of India (SFI), refuted the allegation. “I had gone to check what was happening after I heard that there was something going on in Periyar hostel. The allegations that I led the mob are baseless. I was looking for the security guard at Periyar Hostel and no one was present, and the guard also was missing,”she mentioned.
The incident, which befell 21 days after the police motion in opposition to anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest on Jamia Millia Islamia campus, made headlines nationwide. Bollywood A-lister Deepika Padukone made a quick look at a press convention organised by the Left-leaning college students on the campus, on January 8, the place Ghosh, JNU college students union president, blamed the college administration of a witch-hunt.
SHODDY POLICE PROBE
Surya Prakash, a resident of Sabarmati Hostel and now a PhD scholar, who’s visually challenged, was amongst those that had been attacked by the mob that day. He mentioned he had given an utility to get an FIR registered however even a year later, is yet to listen to from the police.
Though no senior officer authorised to talk to the media on the case developments responded to HT’s queries regardless of repeated calls and textual content messages, some investigators in the crime department mentioned on situation of anonymity that there was little or no headway in the case.
“We sent the photographs and videos to the forensic science laboratory. The result is awaited. Because of the lockdown, many such videos are pending forensic examination. The case involved students so we do not act until we have strong evidence,” mentioned a mid-level officer.
According to medical doctors on the AIIMS Trauma Centre, 35 injured had been introduced for remedy. Nearly half of them had been from Sabarmati hostel.
“I received no calls from the police for any investigation into the case. It has been a year and yet there has been no conclusion in the matter so far. I don’t even hope for any kind of justice,” mentioned Surya Prakash, who alleged that the mob broke into his room and thrashed him.
Another postgraduate scholar and a resident of Sabarmati hostel, who recorded a video of the time when the mob went on the rampage at her hostel premises, mentioned, “We came out of the room on hearing the commotion and saw the mob charging towards the girls’ wing. We soon gathered and made a human chain. I started making a video and was attacked with stones. I have written multiple times to the police and the administration but there has been no response.”
She alleged that the administration didn’t even restore the injury brought about throughout the violence. “Some teachers pooled in money and got the window panes changed. Otherwise, the administration has not fixed anything as of now,” she alleged.
JNU PANEL MADE LITTLE PROGRESS
JNU vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar constituted a five-member committee to probe the violence. HT spoke to a number of college students from each Left- and the Right-leaning teams, and to a number of lecturers — all of them mentioned they’ve by no means been contacted by the committee to file their assertion.
Satish Chandra Yadav, basic secretary of the scholars’ union and a member of All India Students Association (AISA), mentioned he was additionally injured in the assault. “We do not know about the existence of the internal inquiry committee,” he mentioned.
Several different college students had the identical response. Shivam Chaurasiya, a PhD scholar and president of ABVP’s JNU unit, mentioned that he was attacked by the mob close to Periyar hostel. “At least 20-25 ABVP members got injured in the violence. We did record our statements with the police but we do not know about any other inquiry committee. We have on Monday written to the administration asking it to tell us what it’s done so far to probe the matter,” he mentioned.
Aishe Ghosh mentioned, “The administration has never ever contacted me to ask if I was alright even as my images and videos were all over the news and social media. Justice has been denied to us at every stage and if this gets normalised students won’t feel comfortable coming to the JNU campus. We do not want this to get erased from the public memory before justice is delivered.”
TEACHERS RECALL HORROR
Shukla Sawant, a professor on the School of Arts and Aesthetics, was amongst those that first noticed the mob shifting in the direction of the gathering at Sabarmati T-point. She alleged that she was attacked with lathis and stones, struggling accidents on her again and head. “It was mayhem. I could not believe my eyes. The masked mob was smashing and breaking the vehicles, and beating students and teachers with sticks, rods and stones… It’s been very traumatic. It’s taken away everybody’s mental space. There were several WhatsApp groups clearly mentioning the names of several people but nothing has been done as of now,” she mentioned.
Sucharita Sen, a professor on the School of Social Sciences, who was attacked on the identical spot, and obtained accidents on her head, mentioned she felt hesitant to go to her office for a while after the incident. “I was hit by a stone. I was bleeding when a colleague and a student tried to take me to the hospital on a two-wheeler. But we were not allowed to pass through the main gate. We had to go back to the campus. They shifted me to the university ambulance and was taken to the hospital through another gate. The police were right there and they looked away,” she mentioned.
Sen, 58, mentioned that the one time police had met her was after they recorded her assertion, two months after the incident. “There has been no follow up after that. The administration did not even acknowledge my representations sent via emails during this period. I had even moved a Delhi court, seeking registration of an FIR but nothing happened. I have no hope for justice now,” she mentioned.
Former JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) member Bikramaditya Choudhary, whose spouse was chased by the mob armed with sticks and rods, close to school housing advanced, mentioned, “She had submitted a video to the police and had written five times to them but nobody approached us. She is still traumatised by the incident and feels wary while stepping out. The behaviour of the administration shows that it colluded with the perpetrators.”
PROVIDED SUPPORT, SAYS ADMIN
Despite a number of makes an attempt, vice-chancellor Jagadesh Kumar didn’t reply to calls and messages for a response. JNU registrar Pramod Kumar mentioned all attainable help was offered to the scholars and lecturers. “The university had provided ambulances and medical aid to students and teachers injured in that unfortunate incident. The representatives of the administration had also visited the injured in the hospital. We could not meet everyone personally but we have full-time counsellors at the campus for any psychological support for the students,” he mentioned.
On being requested why the inner inquiry committee constituted by the administration didn’t method any sufferer or the eyewitnesses of the violence, he mentioned, “We did not push the internal inquiry committee since a special team of police is investigating the matter. We regularly take the updates about the investigation from the police.”
Kumar dismissed the allegations of the administration being “hand-in-glove” with the attackers. “It’s equally shocking for us all…We do not want to comment on who was responsible for the violence. Let police do their work.”
INACTION INDEFENSIBLE: EXPERTS
A criminal offense department officer, who didn’t want to be named, mentioned, “We have taken the statement of all students who were caught on tape. Even the woman whose photo went viral (allegedly Komal Sharma), was summoned and her statement recorded. The investigation could not proceed thereafter because within a month riots broke out in Delhi. Also, within weeks, the lockdown was announced and the university was closed. All students from JNU and Delhi University were on leave and returned their homes.”
Retired IPS officer, Prakash Singh, who served as director basic of police in Uttar Pradesh and Assam, mentioned that the lockdown didn’t imply police stopped doing their job. “I do not know the progress of the case. But if it is true that police have not arrested any person, it reflects poorly on the police’s conduct. Things keep on happening. This does not mean work should stop. The world has not stopped. We have not abandoned our daily chores. If there is not a single arrest, and the progress is slow, it means Delhi police is acting under some constraints. Apart from the earth’s rotation, other things are moving, maybe slow. But if police have not acted on identifying and nabbing the attackers, then it is indefensible.”
Retired IPS officer, NC Asthana, who was a director basic in the Kerala police, mentioned Delhi police’s conduct in the case has been removed from being skilled. “Police have not been able to find who that woman (Komal Sharma) is even after a year. It is very unfortunate, also not professional. It does not inspire confidence. You have to be impartial. Let me put it this way. The conduct of the police has been far from professional.”
(With inputs from Prawesh Lama and Karn Pratap Singh)