The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the city police, the Delhi government, instant messaging company WhatsApp, and tech giants Google and Apple to respond to a plea of three professors of Jawaharlal Nehru University to preserve data, CCTV footage and other evidence related to the January 5 violence on the institution’s campus, PTI reported.
Professors Ameet Parameswaran, Atul Sood, and Shukla Vinayak Sawant had moved the court on Friday, seeking necessary directions to the police commissioner and government. The petitioners said they were concerned that the relevant evidence might not be properly preserved in the absence of a direction from the court or the police commissioner, Hindustan Times reported.
The police told the court that it had asked the JNU administration to preserve and hand over CCTV footage of the violence. The Delhi government’s Standing Counsel for criminal cases, Rahul Mehra, said the police had not yet received any response from the university administration. The counsel said the police had also written to WhatsApp to preserve the data of two groups – “Unity Against Left” and “Friends of RSS” – including messages, pictures and videos and the phone numbers of its members. Brijesh Sethi listed the matter for hearing on Tuesday.
A mob – allegedly comprising Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members armed with sticks and hammers – attacked students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi on the evening of January 5, injuring at least 34 people. The outfit is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s student wing. Later, a group of right-wing activists sloganeering outside the university’s main gate heckled, abused and threatened several journalists who were reporting on the violence. Several eye-witness accounts and videos indicated that in most places, police personnel present at JNU did almost nothing to stop the violence, and, in fact, allowed the attackers to exit the university without apprehending them.
Members of the ABVP have blamed the violence on “Naxals” and leftist students. However, Scroll.in traced Whatsapp messages planning the attack – as well as celebrating it – to the Hindutva organisation’s activists.
Last week, news channel India Today identified one of the assailants as a member of the ABVP. In clips recorded by the news channel’s “Special Investigation Team” on hidden cameras, ABVP member Akshat Awasthi, a first-year student of the French degree programme at the university, identified himself as one of the attackers. He claimed to have mobilised people from outside the college, and the police had cooperated with the attackers. Awasthi said the mob attack was revenge against the Left for allegedly attacking its supporters in a hostel on January 5 morning. However, the sting also showed former JNU Students’ Union president and Left activist Geeta Kumari admitting that she was part of an attack on the university’s server room on January 4. She said the servers were shut down because the vice chancellor did not meet students to address their demands.