New Delhi: The Delhi Police has not made a single arrest even 23 days after the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the national capital saw masked assailants attack students and faculty members on campus, despite the latter registering over 40 complaints with the force.
Speaking to ThePrint, lawyers Abhik Chimni and Tara Narula said JNU students and faculty members have both filed cases in the days since the hours-long attack on campus. However, the police is yet to file a single FIR based on these complaints.
Chimni and Narula are among the several lawyers representing the JNU students and faculty.
The complaints that have been made so far mention the chain of events on 5 January as they allegedly happened, calling it “predetermined”. ThePrint has seen at least five such complaints.
The main complainants include professors Sucharita Sen and Shukla Sawant, and assistant professor Mohinder Singh.
RSS-affiliated students’ wing ABVP has also registered over 25 complaints, the unit’s JNU president Durgesh Kumar told ThePrint.
The Left-dominated JNU Students Union (JNUSU) has alleged that ABVP members had led the attack that injured over 30 people. A sting operation by news channel India Today corroborated this. The ABVP has, however, denied these charges. It leveled counter-allegations against Left student bodies.
According to the lawyers, the usual course of action if an FIR is not filed after such complaints are registered is to move Section 156 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers a magistrate to order an investigation.
If this isn’t done either, then the complainants can move the high court citing the Lalita Kumari vs Govt.Of UP judgment of 2013, said the lawyers. The order mandates the registration of an FIR when the complaint discloses a cognisable offence within a specified period.
The lawyers added that they are contemplating taking this route.
ThePrint reached the Delhi Police for a comment but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
What the complainants say
In her complaint, Sucharita Sen, who was grievously injured in the attack, said the masked assailants pelted students and professors with stones on 5 January. She said she was hurt and started bleeding profusely when a big brick hit her head.
She also noted that the JNU main entrance was locked and there were more “goons” and police personnel present when she tried to leave the premises to get treatment at AIIMS. She alleged that the assailants damaged her car as well.
The Delhi Police was earlier accused of inaction despite being present on campus, and even facilitating a safe passage for the assailants.
Shukla Sawant in her complaint alleged that when she was on her way to a meeting at Sabarmati dhaba — where the attack first took place — she saw people who didn’t have their faces covered, and therefore could easily be identified through CCTV footage.
Mohinder Singh called the attack “predetermined”.
Satish Chandra, JNUSU general secretary, who is among the complainants, said he gave a statement to the police explaining how he was attacked on 4 January. However, no action has been taken.
“They have not acted on my complaint and I do not know when they will file an FIR,” said Chandra.
Speaking to ThePrint, Jayati Ghosh, an economics professor at JNU, said the police hasn’t done anything despite detailed and graphic statements by faculty members.
“The police has not given a reason for not filing the cases. Furthermore, right after the attack they were only asking two questions to students. One, ‘What is your permanent address?’ And two, ‘Are you a member of ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) or AISA (All India Students Association?”
The JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) had earlier alleged that the entry of “goons” into the campus was facilitated by the varsity administration.
What the lawyers say
Abhik Chimni, a Delhi-based lawyer who has been handling cases for JNU Teachers Association and JNUSU since 2017, said no FIRs have been filed on these complaints as the Delhi Police’s rationale is that it has already registered an FIR in the 5 January attack case.
In its FIR dated 6 January in connection with the attack, the police alleged the role of “unidentified people” for arson.
A day prior to that, the police had filed two FIRs against JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh and 19 others for vandalism incidents on the campus on 3 January and 4 January. The FIR against Ghosh came hours after she was severely injured in the 5 January attack.
In total, the police filed four FIRs.
Tara Narula told ThePrint that the police’s FIR in the attack doesn’t include Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
HC order for police
On 14 January, the Delhi High Court asked messaging service WhatsApp and internet giant Google to preserve and provide information related to the JNU violence to the police. The order came on a writ petition filed on behalf of three faculty members of JNU — Sawant, Ameet Parameswaran and Atul Sood.
The court also told the police to seize the phones of members of two WhatsApp groups — Friends of RSS and Unity Against Left. The 5 January violence was allegedly coordinated on these groups.
Chimni told ThePrint that if and when the FIRs are filed, this data will be useful in investigation. “This order will be beneficial once the FIRs are registered and then the data from these groups can be used.”
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