The Delhi High Court on Tuesday ordered the police to summon all the members of the two WhatsApp groups believed to be behind the violence on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on January 5, Hindustan Times reported. This came a day after the court, while hearing the same plea by three JNU professors, asked authorities to preserve data, CCTV footage and other evidence related to the violence.
The High Court also asked the police to seize the mobile phones of all the members of the two WhatsApp groups – “Unity Against Left” and “Friends of RSS”. Tech giant Google was asked to provide all the data available to them after its counsel said that they can share the data stored in the Google Drive if the basic subscriber information was shared with the company, according to Live Law.
Instant messaging application WhatsApp said that it can share basic data about the last IP address used, but will be unable to share the messages. “We can’t share the content of the messages due to end-to-end encryption,” the company said. “It ceases to be on our server the moment it is delivered to the receiving person.” The company added that the messages can only be accessed through the phones of users.
Delhi Police’s standing counsel Rahul Mehra told the court that WhatsApp had been asked on January 11 to follow an “emergency” route to provide the information. He said that all the 137 members of the two WhatsApp groups had been identified and that the police had been sending notices to them.
The court asked WhatsApp and Google to preserve and provide information in line with their company policies. The bench of Justice Brijesh Sethi directed the chief security officer and the JNU registrar to provide the CCTV footage sought by the police.
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.
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.
The Delhi Police on Monday questioned three Jawaharlal Nehru University students, including students’ union President Aishe Ghosh, who was among 34 students and teachers injured during the violence. Meanwhile, a special investigation team of the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch has identified a woman who was allegedly involved in the January 5 violence. Police said she is a Delhi University student, but did not disclose her identity.