New Delhi: The Delhi Police is in its final stage of investigations in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) attack case of last year and will soon file the final report on the case, ThePrint has learnt.
On 5 January 2020, masked assailants went on a rampage inside the university campus and unleashed violence against the hostel students attacking them with sticks, stones and iron rods. They also broke windows and furniture and destroyed the students’ personal belongings. At least 36 people, including students, teachers and staff were injured in the attack.
No arrests have been made in the case yet, but a list of suspects released by the police last year included university students.
Now, a year after the incident, and amidst criticism from JNU students and teachers for the delay in investigation, the police have expedited the probe.
Police speed up probe stalled by pandemic
According to police sources, a total of 15 suspects have been identified by the special investigation team (SIT) of the Delhi Police, based on CCTV footage and interrogation.
The Covid-induced lockdown and subsequent return of many students to their hometowns had delayed investigations, claimed the cops, but the probe is back on track now.
Speaking to ThePrint, a senior Delhi Police officer said, “We have questioned and examined 95 people in the case, including the nine suspects, whose photographs were released by SIT chief, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Joy Tirkey, during the press conference held on 9 January last year.”
A final report in the case is also expected soon.
“Teachers, students, security guards and other staff have been questioned in the case and statements have been recorded. Last year, the police team couldn’t collect more evidence against the suspects [owing to disruption caused by the pandemic], but the investigation has resumed, and is currently in its last leg. We will very soon file the final report,” he added.
On 6 January, investigation in the case had been transferred to the crime branch by then Delhi Police commissioner, Amulya Patnaik.
Four days after the violence, on 9 January, Delhi Police had released the names of nine suspects in a press conference. Seven of these had been identified as members of a Left- affiliated student outfit, including Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president, Aishe Ghosh, who herself had suffered head injuries in the incident. The police had claimed that Ghosh had led the attack at the university’s Periyar hostel. She has also been named in two FIRs.
ThePrint repeatedly tried to contact Ghosh over phone and text messages, but received no response until the time of publishing this report.
The young CP(I)M candidate from Jamuria, for the ongoing Bengal assembly polls, however, put out a tweet on the occasion of one year of the attack, stating, “A year back, justice still awaits!! JNU students came out stronger against the saffron terror! Against the Administration sponsored violence led by goons of ABVP and JNUTF”
Police question ABVP’s Komal Sharma
“As per investigations, the violence was an internal issue between two student groups. When one group felt outnumbered, they got people from outside [for support], as seen in CCTV footage from the day of the attack. There had been difference between the two groups for a long time and the violence was the result of that,” the officer quoted above said.
Tracing the problem back to a protest by students against an online entrance exam system, the officer added, “the groups also got divided into pro and anti Vice Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar,” which led to further acrimony between the two.
The police have also questioned Delhi University student and ABVP member, Komal Sharma, who was part of that day’s video footage, in the case, the source told ThePrint.
“Sharma has denied her role in the attack and even said that she wasn’t in JNU during the violence,” he said. “However, it is evident from the footage and other evidence that she was a part of the masked mob, and is responsible for the violence.”
“We have also questioned the other two individuals who had revealed their role in a sting operation by a media house. As of now we can say that the final report will be filed based on a fair probe, conducted by the SIT. We have kept in mind that they are all students,” he added.
A former senior official of the JNU administration, who is familiar with the case, but didn’t wish to be named, confirmed that the varsity’s internal probe in the matter has been shelved, since the police is investigating it. ThePrint contacted the newly-appointed JNU registrar, Anirban Chakraborty, over phone and email, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
Also read: What lies beneath the JNU campus in Delhi