Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh, who was injured in the January 5 violence on campus, has been named in two FIRs filed in connection with two incidents of alleged vandalism on January 1 and 4. Police filed both FIRs on Sunday night, when the violence on campus, perpetrated by around 100 masked men, was at its peak.
One FIR names the JNUSU president and seven others, and was filed at 8.39 pm. The other mentions her and 19 others and was filed at 8.43 pm. Also mentioned in the FIRs, filed on the basis of complaints by the university, are JNUSU office bearers Saket Moon and Satish Yadav. They have been charged with “voluntarily causing hurt,” “criminal intimidation,” and “wrongful restraint”. The university had submitted the two complaints on January 3 and 4.
DCP (South West) Devender Arya said there was no delay in registering FIRs. “After receiving both complaints on January 3 and 4, we verified all facts and lodged FIRs at Vasant Kunj (North) police station.”
While an FIR has also been filed in connection with Sunday’s violence, police have so far not identified or arrested a single person. The violence on campus left 36 people, including students and faculty members, injured. The FIR against Ghosh and others filed at 8.39 pm states that on January 1, “around 1 pm, a group of students using masks on their faces forcibly entered the office of the Center for Information system (CIS) located near the Administrative Block and switched off power supply, evicted technical staff and made the servers dysfunctional. They obstructed and stopped public servants from doing their duties”.
The FIR also states that the students threatened, abused, and chased staff out of the office and server room. The FIR states that “students locked the room, squatted at the door and did not let staff enter the server room”. The FIR, filed based on a complaint by JNU Chief Security Officer, names eight students, including Ghosh, Moon and Yadav.
The second FIR, filed after a complaint was received from JNU security personnel at the admin block, states: “On January 3/4, CIS office was closed as registration process was halted due to lockdown. Effort was made, with help of JNU security guards, to open the office at 6 am on January 4.”
The FIR states that following this, 20 students, including Ghosh, “indulged in physical violence, pushed lady guards, verbally abused and threatened them with dire consequences if they opened lock of CIS door. Few guards were beaten up”.
In the FIR, the complainant states that CIS staff managed to enter the office but after some time “a large number of student agitators entered, abused staff and forced them out”. The FIR states police were immediately informed and a team led by SHO Vasant Kunj (North) police station visited the site and left after some time. “At 1 pm, a group of students entered the CIS office from the back door, by breaking open the glass door, and damaged fiber optic cables, power supplies and broke biometric system.”
The Indian Express spoke to 10 students who have been named in the two FIRs about the allegations against them. JNUSU president Ghosh said, “I have neither cut any wires not assisted any guards. I reached there on Saturday only after I received an SOS from a student. I don’t even know the details of the FIR.”
A PhD student named in the second FIR said, “I was not at CIS; I didn’t wear any masks on January 3 or 4.” Another PhD student, Apeksha Priyadarshni, a member of a Left students’ party, is named in both FIRs. “Early morning on January 4, we received messages that students outside CIS were being beaten up by masked guards. Around noon, ABVP members and guards got into an altercation with students,” she said. On the allegations in the FIR, she said that “no glass door was broken and no guards were beaten up. I was beaten up and have a fracture on my finger”.
A student who didn’t want to be named said “he was present at CIS but didn’t take part in any violence or cutting of wire”. Sarika Chaudhary, who was JNUSU vice-president last year, said she had been protesting at the School of International Studies and only visited CIS once late Saturday afternoon: “I only went after I heard ABVP students attacked protesting students at CIS. At 6 am, I was asleep inside the hostel.”
Geeta Kumari, a PhD student, said she and two other students were sitting outside CIS early Saturday morning when they were attacked by guards. Reacting to the FIRs, the JNUSU said, “This is another instance of this administration’s attempt to criminalise the democratic protest led by JNUSU, while protecting the ABVP henchmen who work as loyal footsoldiers of this V-C.”