New Delhi: It was at around 4.30 pm Sunday that officers deployed in plainclothes at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) informed the Delhi Police and Vice-Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar’s office about “simmering tension” that may lead to a “riot” on the campus.
The reaction from the V-C, however, came after over three hours — at around 7.45 pm, said a source in the Delhi Police.
The policemen on JNU campus are for intelligence gathering and not for maintaining law and order, according to Delhi Police. In case of any flare-up, they are supposed to inform the university authorities and their seniors.
Despite several distress calls made to the police by students inside the campus, who were beaten up by masked armed assailants, the police entered the campus only after 8 pm.
And by then, the assailants had created havoc — vandalising property and attacking students and teachers, leaving 34 of them severely injured.
Asked why the police did not stop the violence, the police source quoted above said they were awaiting “written permission from the V-C to enter the campus”.
“The policemen (deployed) inside had also sounded the administration apart from the V-C’s office but no formal communication was sent to the police. In fact, we were told that the V-C was sent SOS messages but the formal communication was received by us only after 7 pm,” the source added.
As many as 34 students and teachers were injured in the attack by a masked mob. The identity of the assailants is yet to be verified even as the right-wing student body ABVP and its Left-wing rivals’ trade allegations.
‘Took position at main gate at 5.30 pm, but did not enter’
While the masked assailants were attacking the students, damaging property, three teams of Delhi Police were waiting outside the JNU North gate, which is the university’s main gate, for a “written approval” from the V-C to enter the campus.
The police claimed after they started receiving PCR calls from students inside, they took position outside the gate at 5.30 pm but did not enter as the permission from the V-C had not come.
“We were aware of the clash, which is why we took our position outside the gate but did not enter because the V-C did not give anything in writing. The moment we received the approval, our teams went inside and controlled the law and order situation,” a senior police officer said.
While it is a convention that the police cannot enter a university campus without permission from the V-C, there’s no law or a written rule that bars them from doing it.
“There is no rule, no law that prevents police from entering into a place, may it be a university campus, when something illegal is going on,” former Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar told ThePrint.
‘We entered Jamia without permission & were damned’
Another police officer, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint: “When we entered Jamia Millia Islamia without permission, we were damned. Now when we are following the procedure, we are being questioned again.”
The officer said after what had happened at Jamia and “how the force was criticised” for entering the campus, the police decided to wait for written permission before entering the JNU campus.
“When that (permission) came, we entered the campus and took charge of the situation. The situation was brought under control in the next 20 minutes,” he added.
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