The Delhi Police on Monday questioned three Jawaharlal Nehru University students, including students’ union President Aishe Ghosh, in connection with the January 5 mob attack on campus, PTI reported. The attack had left 34 students and teachers injured, including Ghosh.
The police’s Crime Branch team also interrogated students Pankaj Mishra and Vasker Vijay Mech.
The police had last week identified nine suspects – seven from Left-leaning students’ organisations and two from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad – for the violence. This list includes Ghosh, Mishra and Mech. Mishra, however, claimed that he was not affiliated to any organisation.
Ghosh told the media following the interrogation: “They sought my version of events. They asked me about my complaint. I also asked why they did not register a first information report on the complaint filed by me.”
The police said they have informed the Delhi High Court that they have asked the university administration to preserve and hand over the CCTV footage of the violence, but has not yet received any response from the university. They added that a letter has been written to WhatsApp, asking it to preserve data, including messages, pictures, videos and phone numbers of members, of two groups – “Unity Against Left” and “Friends of RSS”. The attack was allegedly coordinated on the messaging platform by these groups.
According to the police, Akshat Awasthi and Rohit Shah, who featured in a sting operation conducted by India Today, have also been served notices to join the investigation. The ABVP has denied that Awasthi and Shah are members of the organisation.
Protests against fee hike continue
Meanwhile, protests against the fee hike for hostels and the mess continued at JNU on Monday, with a general boycott of classes. The JNU administration, earlier in the day, had advised teachers to rejoin classes “in the interests of the students”. The administration also claimed that over 5,000 of 8,500 students have registered for the winter semester, an act which the JNU Students’ Union has decided to boycott.
At a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, a five-member delegation of the JNU Teachers Association said that the atmosphere is not conducive to the resumption of classes, and claimed that students are scared of coming back to campus. “We do not feel secure on campus, atmosphere not conducive for academic activities,” JNUTA President DK Lobiyal told the ministry officials. “Students who left campus after violence scared to return, how can we resume teaching.”
Professor Hari Ram Mishra of the School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies told PTI that while some students attended classes, many have still not returned to campus.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” said that the fee hike matter has been sorted out, and the protests against the increment are no longer justified. “The fee-related matter of JNU has been sorted out following several rounds of discussions with representatives of JNU students and teachers,” Pokhriyal said. “The main demand by students related to increase in service and utility charges and other related issues have now been settled and the continuation of agitation by the students is no longer justified.”
Protests against the hike in hostel and mess fees had broken in November. The protests did not subside despite a partial fee rollback. Both the JNU Students’ Union and teachers have demanded that university Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar be sacked, blaming him for the fee matter as well as the attack on campus on January 5.