The sequence of events: The students of the campus have been facing such incidents of lumpenism by outsiders, teasing and harassment of girl students for quite some time now. Yesterday it crossed all limits. When these four lumpens were intimidating the guard, the police van (PCR) that was standing just outside the North Gate did nothing. As soon as some students gathered and tried to confront the lumpens, immediately the police van came inside and gave ‘safe refuge’ to them. These hooligans had ‘high connections’ which they proudly flaunted to the students present there. No wonder, within an hour, more forces were called into the campus, not to apprehend the guilty but to provide security to them. The ACP came along with the SHO of Vasant Kunj Police Station. Soon afterward more than 300 troops of Rapid Action Force, fully armed with shields and lathis gathered outside the gate. After the students protested, they were only removed from the vicinity of the gate but kept ready nearby. The students collectively decided to lock the gate from inside so that the RAF can not barge in and the culprits cannot abscond. The father and sister of one of the goons appeared in the meantime and proclaimed that the culprits had all the rights to carry a gun!
More students gathered and immense anger generated who witnessed the shielding of the goons by the police. The anger was justified, as it took the police around three hours to even file an FIR. While the FIR was being filed, the students who went to the police station faced pressure, intimidation and coercion from different quarters to dilute the case.
The students were peaceful till the end. The anger of the students was taken out on the lumpen’s vehicle! While a few students wanted to set it on fire, the overwhelming majority of the students prevailed upon them and the fire was soon extinguished. Many opinions were coming about the future course of action and debated on the spot, and after deliberations it was decided that they will not be allowed to go out of the campus unless they tender a public apology. If needed their faces would also be blackened. The JNUSU president himself declared this decision from the top of the police van, and barring only a few students, majority present there agreed to it. Accordingly, a voluntary human-chain was formed by the protesting students keeping distance with the car, so that the public apology could be facilitated.
The police was not yet ‘confident’ to take the lumpens out of the car and therefore waited for the DCP (south Delhi) to arrive. The DCP arrived and told that any public apology by the accused is against the law! However, this was not conveyed to the students properly and many people were in confusion as to what is going to happen. What followed this from the police was extremely shocking. Instead of making any attempts to control the situation inside, or even to explain the situation to the students, the gate was suddenly opened (which was so far locked from inside to keep the RAF away) without letting the hundreds of students know about this decision, and the impending police crackdown. The Associate Dean as well as the JNUSU leadership agreed to open the gate unilaterally without first consulting, or even informing the students. The Dean is now claiming that he had asked for ‘ten minutes from the police to remove the students’ before opening the gate! Even this ‘agreement’ was not informed to the students. It was an absolutely irresponsible decision by the administration and JNUSU leadership to open the gate without removing the RAF from the other side first. This made more than 600 protesting students vulnerable to the assault by the ruthless RAF. We strongly condemn this irresponsible decision.
After the police and the RAF started lathi-charging, some students started pelting stones in self-defence. But that lasted merely for few minutes, as instantly the ruthless lathi charging started. After one round of lathi-charging the RAF retreated. A few students and two professors got down to the street and asked the RAF to go out of the campus and tried to close the gate. The RAF immediately returned to a second bout of attack. This time it was much more ruthless and completely unprovoked. Women students were particularly targeted this time and some of them were dragged by their hair. Students were randomly picked up and taken away. Tear gas shells were also burst. No where ever police bursts tear gas after already lathicharging!
In this entire episode, the administration was shockingly absconding. The Registrar made a token visit in the beginning and the Associate Dean vanished as soon as the lathi charge started. A few Professors tried to negotiate with the police and RAF while the rest of the administration kept away. Other faculty members, barring a very few did not feel it important enough to even see in what condition the students were even after such a massive assault. The shameless VC far from coming to the students while they were being beaten up stationed RAF infront of his own house to safeguard himself! The Chief Security Officer who has completely proved himself to completely incompetent by now, appeared in the scene long after everything was over. In none of the incidents of harassment, abuses, beating up etc that have taken place in the campus at night in the last few months, was he ever present. Yesterday was no exception. W Demand the immediate dismissal of this worthless, irresponsible officer. The administration must take responsibility of the entire incident. The case against the four lumpens must be pursued from the university too and university must take a strong position against the DCP under whose order such assault was orchestrated.
Why didn’t we sign the Joint statement of the JNUSU and few other organizations? After such a massive assault on the students, the first response that comes from the students’ community should be to strongly and unequivocally condemn and protest the police atrocities and the administration’s complicity and failure to prevent the police from such a crackdown. However, the statement ended with a call for ‘introspection’ on behalf of the students’ community over certain ‘developments during the protest’. This statement by itself implicates the student community in the entire incident along with the police and administration. Why should the student community take responsibility of this massive assault on an unprovoking mass? Such statement dilutes the spirit of the entire protest and it was completely counter productive at this point of time. It strengthens the version of the police that students provoked the attack. Even the media quoted the statement and said ‘students believe they have overreacted’! The Joint Statement is definitely not the platform to ‘introspect’. It should have rather been an all-out attack on the perpetrators of this massive violence. There are other platforms and means to introspect and debate on mode of protest. To impose ‘introspection’ even when there are opinions to the contrary is nothing but shunning of responsibility on the part of the leadership and thereby shifting the onus to the common students. This has happened at a time when the historic role of the JNUSU leadership should have been to stand by the student community which has received the brunt of such massive crackdown.
Let us unitedly ensure that the perpetrators of such violence by the state machinery be punished. The administration now must come out with a concrete mechanism to ensure security of the students on campus.