Biometric systems and CCTV cameras in Jawaharlal Nehru University’s server room were not damaged in the first week of January, the institute has said in response to a Right to Information query, PTI reported on Wednesday.
Though this contradicts the administration’s version of events leading up to a mob attack on the university’s students and teachers on January 5, the university dismissed media reports about its response to the RTI query. “All FIRs and other complaints filed with police are in line with facts,” ANI quoted it as saying.
The Delhi Police registered two FIRs against student union leaders on January 5 for incidents that occurred on the campus on January 1, January 3 and January 4. The FIRs, which were examined by Scroll.in, were filed on the basis of the JNU security department’s complaints. The department alleged that students opposing the recent administrative decision to hike hostel fees had vandalised the computer server room to disrupt the semester registration process, and even cut fibre optic wires, disrupting wireless internet connections.
According to one FIR, a group of masked students forcibly entered the Centre for Information System on January 3 and switched off the power supply. This reportedly disrupted a range of functions such as CCTV surveillance, biometric attendance and internet services.
But in the RTI response the JNU administration reportedly said the main server at the Centre for Information System was shut down on January 3 and it went down the following day “due to power supply disruption”. Seventeen fibre optic cables were damaged on January 4 and none of the biometric systems or CCTV cameras were broken or destroyed between December 30, 2019, and January 8, it added.
The Right to Information query was filed by National Campaign for People’s Right to Information member Saurav Das uder the “life and liberty” clause.
The university also claimed that CCTV footage from the campus main gate between 3 pm and 11 pm on January 5 was not available. A group of right-wing activists had heckled, abused and threatened several journalists, who were reporting on the violence, outside the main gate.
A mob allegedly comprising Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members armed with sticks and hammers is believed to have carried out the attack. The outfit is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s student wing. 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. Earlier this month, news channel India Today identified two of the assailants as ABVP members.
The Delhi Police last week questioned three Jawaharlal Nehru University students, including students’ union President Aishe Ghosh, who was among those injured in the violence. Meanwhile, a special investigation team of the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch identified a woman who was allegedly involved in the mob attack. According to the police, she is Delhi University student Komal Sharma.