February 5, 2020 3:48:38 am
Five days after around 100 masked persons went on a rampage inside the JNU campus for around four hours on January 5, leaving 36 students, teachers and staff injured, the Delhi Police had released the names of “nine suspects” — all students. But a month later, a special investigation team of the Delhi Police Crime Branch has not been able to identify a single attacker they can arrest with evidence.
An SIT team comprising 20 police personnel is working round-the-clock and has made a camp office inside the admin block of JNU. “The SIT has so far questioned 67 people, including 10 suspects, whose pictures were released by the SIT’s chief, DCP Joy Tirkey, during his first press conference. Since then, no briefing has been called by him. The SIT has recorded the statements of injured students, teachers, wardens, security guards and the students against whom allegations were made,” a senior police officer said.
Sources said most of the statements given to them had one thing in common — that the “attackers were wearing masks and they don’t know anything about them”.
“Some of the injured students have alleged they were beaten up by students who belonged to Left outfits. The same allegations were made by the rival groups. After their questioning, around nine names came and we questioned them too, but we don’t have any evidence against them. We are now trying to gather some evidence which will corroborate their involvement in the violence,” an officer said.
Sources said it had come to fore during probe that a back-up of CCTV footage of the campus was available and SIT retrieved the data with the help of experts of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). “The footage has been given to FSL. Police have sent a letter to Google, after giving the email addresses of several students and members of the WhatsApp groups ‘Unity Against Left’ and ‘Friends of RSS’, to seek details of their messages, pictures and videos. It is learnt that police believe the back-up of these messages may be available with the email account,” the officer said.
The SIT has questioned students Akshat Awasthi and Rohit Shah in connection with the January 5 violence on JNU campus. “They were questioned separately for around three hours each and both of them denied their involvement in any type of violence. The SIT summoned them after a TV news channel conducted a sting operation in which both the first-year students of JNU claimed to be ABVP members and ‘confessed’ their role in the violence,” police sources said.
During the questioning, the duo reportedly told police that they were approached by some people who assured them help in getting a national profile in the students’ union and asked them about their role in the incident. “Awasthi claimed before police that he was sleeping in his room when the attack happened at Sabarmati Hostel. Just for self-adulation, they exaggerated their involvement. They also informed police that they have filed a complaint against the TV news channel for allegedly cheating them by conducting a sting operation,” police sources said.
Earlier, the SIT tried to summon another student, Komal Sharma, whom they served a notice over the phone and asked to join the investigation. However, she has not complied and her phone is switched off. Police had identified Sharma as the masked woman seen in purported videos of the violence.
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