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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Internal investigation shelved: Year on, little headway in JNU violence probe

According to police sources, a special investigation team of the Delhi Police Crime Branch has identified 15 suspects — all students — but their investigation was stalled after the lockdown was announced and students returned to their homes.

Written by Mahender Singh Manral , Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Updated: January 5, 2021 2:15:49 pm
JNU violence, JNU attacks, JNU attack confession tapes, JNU violence Delhi Police, Delhi High Court, Delhi news, city news, Indian ExpressView of rampaged Sabarmati Hostel of Jawaharlal Nehru University. (Express photograph: Tashi Tobgyal)

No arrests, no chargesheet and the university’s internal probe dissolved — a year after masked people went on a rampage inside Jawaharlal Nehru University, the investigation into the violence has made little progress.

According to police sources, a special investigation team of the Delhi Police Crime Branch has identified 15 suspects — all students — but their investigation was stalled after the lockdown was announced and students returned to their homes.

On January 9 last year, a press conference was called by the Delhi Police — four days after around 100 masked persons went on a rampage inside the JNU campus, leaving 36 students, teachers and staff injured — wherein it had released the names of nine suspects, all students, of whom seven were identified as members of Left-student outfits. The other two were from ABVP, though police did not name the outfit.

Three FIRs were registered at Vasant Kunj (north) police station, but the investigation was transferred to the Crime Branch by then Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik and a special investigation team of 20 police personnel set up a camp office inside the JNU admin block. After the February Northeast Delhi riots, however, the same team was asked to probe riot cases, as well as the case against Nizamuddin Markaz head Maulana Saad in connection with alleged violation of Covid protocol.

Sources told The Indian Express the SIT has questioned 88 people, including nine suspects whose pictures were released by SIT chief DCP Joy Tirkey at the press conference. The SIT has also recorded statements of injured students, teachers, wardens, security guards and students against whom allegations were made. “After questioning, we found names of some other suspects, but since the lockdown was announced, the team was not able to gather more conclusive evidence against them,” said a police source.

The SIT has also questioned Delhi University student Komal Sharma in connection with the violence following allegations that she was seen in videos from that day. “She claimed during her questioning that some people were trying to frame her, and denied her involvement in the violence. She also claimed she was not present on the campus that day,” a source said.

Delhi Police spokesperson Dr Eish Singhal said three FIRs were registered in connection with the violence and investigation is pending.

After coming under criticism for inaction and not meeting the students and teachers injured in the January 5 violence, the JNU administration had set up a five-member committee to probe the incident.  However, one year later, Registrar Pramod Kumar told The Indian Express that the internal probe had been shelved as the police was already doing its investigation.

Teachers and students injured in the attack also said they hadn’t been approached by the committee members even once.

“Police are investigating the matter so this committee has not submitted its report. What is the point? It’ll be the same thing of who started the fight, etc. We have helped the police instead,” said Kumar.

JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, who received 16 stitches on her head after allegedly being hit by iron rods, said: “One year later, we should have seen at least some development in the case… Police told us they are with us but after taking our statement once, they didn’t follow up. We had no hope from the internal probe, but they didn’t even talk to us once.”

Professor Sucharita Sen, who had received four stitches on her head after stones were thrown at her, said: “I had sent a letter to the V-C asking for an impartial probe and action against the security agency (firm hired by JNU) on January 20 last year, to which I have not received any response till date. Even the police has spoken to us only once.”

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