With increasing pressure on identifying and apprehending those responsible for the violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University on January 5, the Delhi police on Friday held a press briefing on the violence at the campus on January 5 afternoon. Though the police placed the blame largely on students and members of Left organisations for the violence in the afternoon, they failed to make any mention of the violence that broke out in the evening when masked people entered hostels and attacked students.
The press briefing was given by the DCP Dr Joy Tirkey, who is heading the SIT constituted under the Crime Branch that is investigating the matter. He said seven of the nine people who attached the Periyar hostel on January 5 afternoon were students of four left organisations â€“ the Students Federation of India, All India Students Federation, Democratic Studentsâ€™ Federation and SIDA â€“ that were also part of the JNU Students Union (JNUSU). Police have accused Aishe Ghosh, JNUSU President, of leading the mob that attacked Periyar hostel in the campus on January 5 afternoon.
The police have named a total of nine people as suspects and also released their photos. One of the suspects is Aishe Ghosh, who, incidentally suffered severe head injuries when masked persons with rods attacked students and teachers on the evening of January 5. The other suspects named are Chunchun Kumar (AISA member and former JNU student), Pankaj Mishra, Bhaskar Vijay, Sucheta, Priya Ranjan, Samantak, Shiv Pujan Mandal and Yogendra Bhardwaj. The latter two are reportedly members of the BJP-affiliated ABVP.
Dr Joy said that while no one has been detained so far, the police are going to issue notices to everyone, and begin questioning suspects soon.
The events of days prior
Clarifying that press briefing was an exception to the norm, where it was being held even as the investigation was ongoing, Dr Joy also detailed the events that took place preceding January 5.
He said that there had been an ongoing protest from October 24, 2019 by the four Left groups â€“ SFI, AISF, DSF and SIDA. He alleged that the groups were refusing to comply with the provisional online registration required by JNU for the winter semester on the payment of Rs 300, unless their demands were met. The police also accused the groups of preventing other students from registering as well.
On January 3, around 1 pm, members of these four groups allegedly entered the server room at JNU by force and tampered with the servers. While the servers were brought back online, on January 4, the students attempted to do the same. â€śThis time, JNU authorities were better prepared. But there was a back door from where some miscreants entered and damaged the servers very badly,â€ť Dr Joy said, adding that the JNU authorities had filed a complaint on this issue and an FIR had been registered.
Events of January 5
Coming to the events of January 5, the police said that in the afternoon, the Left group members attacked the Periyar hostel. They allege that Aishe Ghosh was among the assailants.
Interestingly, the police said that the CCTV cameras were disabled as they were WiFi supported. They also said that they could not go by the videos and photos making the rounds online as they needed primary evidence - they can only admit as evidence if a witness comes forward saying they have shot the photo or video. When journalists at the press meet asked how come those who attacked the hostels in the night had not been identified, the police claimed that this was only the first press conference.
Aishe Ghosh's response
The photo of Aishe Ghosh crying with fear due to a head injury sustained from the attack on January 5, has gone viral. Reacting to the police naming her as a suspect, she said that she has not done anything wrong. "Where is the proof? One does not simply become a suspect by calling them a suspect. There needs to be evidence," she said, adding that the police were just trying to divert the narrative.
"I have not carried out any assault. I donâ€™t know where the Delhi police got this," Aishe said. "I have full faith in the law and order of the country, and that I will get justice for what has happened to me."