KAMAL MITRA CHENOY | 12 JANUARY, 2020
Students, Police and the Question of Justice
After the assault
Five days after a masked mob unleashed violence inside the JNU Campus leaving 36 people injured, Delhi Police on Friday released the names of nine students, seven members from the left and two from the ABVP.
It is intriguing that seven students were identified as Left and two from the ABVP. Delhi Police identified SFI, AISF, AISA, and DSF. It did not mention the other two as belonging to the ABVP.
Barely an hour after the Police press conference was called the sting operation from India Today TV Channel, was brought into the public gaze. Of the two ABVP activists, named were acknowledged by the national general secretary of ABVP Nidhi Tripathi. She said she did not deny that these two were a part of the organisation.
In the India Today sting operation two first year BA (French, JNU) students, claiming to be ABVP members, “confessed” their role in the violence. In footage aired by the Channel, one of the BA (French) students claimed to have “led the mob attack at Sabarmati hostel.”
In footage aired by the channel, one of the BA (French) students who had led the mob attacks said: “Periyar (hostel) was attacked first...I picked a stick from a flag lying near Periyar. I mobilised people to attack Sabarmati hostel.” He said that he “called a friend who is an organisational secretary of the ABVP.” “There was a man with a flowing beard. He looked like a Kashmiri. I beat him up and then broke the gate with my kicks” he said. In linking seven of the nine students in the violence, Delhi Police appeared to have relied heavily on photos circulated by ABVP over the last five days.
It is intriguing that not a single arrest has been made by the police so far. Further there was serious assault on JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh. She was hit on her head and required sixteen stitches, as certified by the hospital. The Delhi police on the other hand tried to blame the injured young woman of violating norms and laws.
Though discussions have been held, between students and the MHRD nothing significant has occurred.
It is clear that the Union Government and its stalwarts have been trying to denigrate the JNU student community as well as the faculty. The very fact that ABVP activists have openly assaulted fellow students, while the Delhi Police mentioned only two ABVP activists and put the onus on the Left is a clear indication of what the Union Governments intentions are.
It should be noted that the Delhi Police is a uniformed force, just like the military. Therefore they have to work under the discipline of senior officers and on occasion have to liaise with military personnel. However the pressure on the police is great. Specially with politicians and activists who want everything done their way.
It is high time that the re-Organization and strengthening of the police and para military forces is done since it is long overdue. If they are given a chance they will take it. For instance, in the anti-naxalite operations the police showed its capacity and courage. It would be in the fitness of things if the police forces was allowed to function and operate in the ways it considered best with accountability.
This incident of JNU and earlier in Jamia and Aligarh Muslim University has become clear not only in our country but in many parts of the world because of internet and other channels. In our own and neighbouring countries the shock and horror has become patent. Clearly this is not the way democratic educational systems are run.
India has been known for its educational systems that attract students from world over, and especially the global South. Nor should our political system veer towards a police state which has clearly been mandated by people in high office. It remains to be seen if any substantial re-thinking is going to take place any time soon. This seems extremely unlikely.
Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy is former JNU Teachers Association President