A Delhi Police fact-finding committee that was constituted to investigate the violence that erupted at Jawaharlal Nehru University on January 5, has cleared its personnel, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.
After almost a year of investigation, the committee has concluded that the situation at the campus on the day of the violence was brought under control with police intervention, an unidentified Delhi police official told the newspaper. The conclusion was reportedly made on the basis of recorded statements of police officers who were on duty that day.
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.
A first information report was registered and the case was transferred to the Crime Branch, but not a single person has been arrested so far. 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.
On January 6, a panel, headed by Joint Commissioner of Police (Western Range) Shalini Singh, was formed on the instructions of then Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, to investigate the sequence of events and the “negligence on part of police” during the attack. It comprised of four inspectors and two assistant commissioners of police.
As part of investigation, the committee had questioned District Commissioner of Police (South-west) Devender Arya, Assistant Commissioner of Police Ramesh Kakkar and Station House Officer Vasant Kunj (North) Rituraj. The investigators also recorded statements made by Inspector Anand Yadav, who was stationed at the administrative block of JNU on January 5, following the High Court’s directions to deploy personnel to ensure protests do not take place near a 100-metre radius of the vice-chancellor’s office.
The police’s version of events
Unidentified police officials told The Indian Express on Thursday that all the police personnel gave similar statements while explaining the sequence of events that took place from 8 am on January 5, when 27 police personnel in civilian clothes arrived for duty at the administration block.
“Their job was to ensure compliance with the High Court order directing police to ensure that no dharna or protest takes place within 100 metres of the admin block,” a Delhi police official said. The official claimed that none of the personnel who were on duty were carrying “any weapons or lathis”.
“The PCR [Police Control Room] call started from 2.30 pm and in total, 23 calls were made from inside the campus to the police,” he added.
In their report, the committee mentioned that eight PCR calls were made from 3.45 pm to 4.15 pm, which were mainly related to beating of students at the Periyar hostel. Later, 14 PCR calls were made from 4.15 pm to 6 pm about “isolated incidents of quarrels and gathering by students”.
“DCP Arya visited the campus along with his subordinates around 5-5.15 pm, but returned to the main gate as the situation appeared normal at the time,” another unidentified official told the newspaper. “The officials during enquiry also showed Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar’s WhatsApp message, which was sent at 6.24 pm to Arya, the assistant commissioner of police and the station house officer, asking them to be stationed at the gates. At 7.45 pm, Registrar Pramod Kumar handed over an official letter to Delhi Police, seeking increased presence and deployment on the premises.”