A little before 8 pm on Sunday, police gathered outside JNU’s north gate, having been called in following the violence unleashed by masked men on campus that lasted close to three hours. What followed was dozens of men, their faces covered with mufflers, chanting slogans — “Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro saalo ko”, “Naxalwad murdabad’ and “Na Maowad, Na Naxalwan, Sabse Upar Rashtrawad” — not allowing ambulances to reach the campus by puncturing tyres and smashing windows. They did so next to a police barricade and in front of a police detention van, with many of the men chanting slogans of ‘police zindabad’.
The men threatened journalists not to click photos or come nearby and also manhandled Swaraj India head Yogendra Yadav. All this while, over 250 policemen looked on without intervening.
Many of those gathered at the gate told The Indian Express that they were affiliated to the ABVP (the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student body of the RSS), but most did not divulge names. Many were seen holding sticks in their hands.
Amid the sloganeering, occasional scuffles broke out between ABVP and Left outfits. The violence happened in darkness as all streetlights in front of the gates were switched off. Occasionally, one or two policemen would intervene and disperse the crowd.
Among those attacked were Yadav, who said: “I was speaking to the JNU teachers about what’s happening at the campus. During this, police started dragging me away saying you are creating tension… that’s when all the goondas who have gathered here started attacking me after which I fell down. Now the police are asking me to leave. They don’t have the courage to remove these goondas.”
Secretary of the JNU Teachers’ Association, Surajit Mazumdar, said, “Teachers were attacked today, and, we are absolutely convinced, with the connivance of the JNU Vice-Chancellor and the JNU administration.”
A man who claimed to be an ABVP member and JNU student, and identified himself as Suresh, was carrying an iron rod with a muffler wrapped around his face. He said, “The Left students started the issue after they beat up our ABVP students, who are fewer in numbers inside campus today. We could not just stand and watch and decided to hit back.”
Police presence was increased outside the gate by 10.45 pm and the crowd was moved out to the road opposite the gate. Streetlights were turned on by 11 pm. By this time, the presence of Left groups increased and they started forming a human chain, pushing back ABVP members and raising slogans such as, “ABVP campus choro”, “Delhi police sharam karo”.
Residents and those from nearby areas, who identified themselves as ABVP members, said they had come to protest the “violence meted by Communists on our people”.
CPM leader D Raja, who also came to the north gate around 10.45 pm, was heckled, with some seen abusing him verbally and asking him to go back, even as women and supporters gathered around him. With no intervention from police. Raja said, “It is nothing but fascism. Delhi Police remains a mute spectator… It is under the Union ministry and Amit shah should be questioned about this.”
Asked about the violence inside and the lawlessness outside the campus, DCP (Southwest) Devender Arya said, “We are inquiring into the matter and probing the role of outsiders as well.” An officer said that since most senior officers were in JNU at the time, the situation outside may have escalated as a result. By Sunday night, 700 police officers had descended on JNU.