Students staging a protest at the JNU campus
Students staging a protest at the JNU campus
PTI File Photo

Exactly a year ago, on January 5, 2020 masked men armed with sticks and rods attacked students and teachers on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus. The violent mob damaged property and injured at least 35 people, prompting the university administration to call in the police.

Many had been admitted to AIIMS Delhi following the attack. The news had sparked massive backlash, with educational institutions across the country calling for justice and holding protest marches.

On January 5, 2021 (Tuesday), the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) marked one year since the attack, which it termed as "saffron terror unleashed on JNU by the ABVP"

A statement issued by the JNUSU highlighted that throughout the course of the incidents that transpired across the campus and beyond, it had been made more or less evident that the outfit responsible for the assault was the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the right-wing all India student organisation affiliated to the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

However, even though one year has passed since the attack, there has been very little progress in the police probe, while no arrests have been made or charge sheets filed in the case, the JNUSU said, hinting at a "larger plan" of unleashing alleged state-sponsored violence in university campuses.

The statement begins with the students' union detailing how the assault came to be unleased over the JNU campus:

"A peace gathering called by the JNUTA, in which the JNUSU and student community were present, was subjected to stone pelting and then a murderous assault with sharp weapons, iron rods, and clubs. Com. Aishe Ghosh, JNUSU President, was almost mob lunched and brutally attacked on her head and hands, she suffered grievous head injury, which required 16 stitches, and a fractured arm. Many of the teachers and students present at the meeting were also targetted and attached, such as Prof. Sucharita Sen who suffered head injuries. The saffron mob proceeded to storm the various hostels, particularly Sabarmati where there was targetted assault on activists of organisations other than the ABVP and those who opposed their vile ideology on the campus."

The JNUSU statement then proceeded to point out that that the attack was "pre-planned" by the ABVP, evident later either through self-admission or the media exposing the organisation's role bringing armed goons to the campus.

"That it was pre-planned attack is of no doubt with multiple photographs and bideos of the ABVP goons available, including those of ABVP DU member Komal Sharma. Her own admission of having participated in the violence had also gone viral. The media had also exposed the role of ABVP JNU member Akshat Awasthi, who is admitted on record to having participated in the attack along with other ABVP goons. The ABVP Delhi Joint Secretary, Anima Sonkar, admitted on live television that the ABVP had mobilised on social media to bring armed goons to the campus and that mob included ABVP members Bikas Patel and Pooja Mandal."

It also alleged the JNU Administration, its Cyclops security, and the Delhi Police of being complicit in the "nexus", backing the claim with facts such as that the security at the Sabarmati hostel "had vacated their station before the attack" and that "the lights on the road towards T-Point were switched off to aid the mob".

"The Delhi Police, who received repeated distress messages and calls from JNUSU office bearers and other students did nothing to prevent and control the attack other than to seal the main gate once the mobs had entered which trapped panicked students within the campus. Even the ambulance carrying Com. Aishe, after she was hit on the head repeatedly, was not allowed to exit through the main gate and instead had to take a long detour. The attack was hence not a random incident but a well thought-out and nefarious plot against the JNU community and the Anti-Fee Hike movement".

The entire statement by the JNUSU can be read here:

JNUSU marks one year since 'saffron terror', condemns police inaction against ABVP
JNUSU marks one year since 'saffron terror', condemns police inaction against ABVP

Notably, police probe in the incident seems to indeed have fizzled out. While the subsequent February clashes in Delhi amid the CAA protests had been added to the investigation, there has not been much headway on the JNU campus attacks.

On January 10 last year, the Delhi Police had released pictures of nine suspects in the JNU violence case and claimed JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh was one of them. Subsequently, they had also questioned some of the suspects.

While 15 suspects had been identified by the Delhi Police Crime Branch, these students had returned home as soon as India went under a lockdown on account of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak.

As things presently stand, the University has shelved its internal probe as the police were already conducting an investigation, and the official efforts remain stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A year later, there has been no arrests made or charge sheet filed.

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Free Press Journal