Over 8,500 Signatories Accuse JNU Admin of Being 'Complicit' in January 5 Attack

The signatories demanded that JNU's registrar and vice chancellor take "moral responsibility" for their failure to guarantee the safety of their students and faculty members.

New Delhi: Accusing ‘masked goons’ of perpetrating a ‘culture of fear’ by attacking students and faculty members of JNU, a solidarity statement endorsed by more than 8,700 people said the events of January 5 led them to the ‘forced’ conclusion that the university’s administration and the police were “complicit in facilitating the attack”.

The statement was initiated by scholars based in India and abroad, who were “shocked by the events that unfolded” on the JNU campus. The signatories said there was “a complete breakdown of campus security”, asking why masked attackers were allowed to freely walk all across campus and “systematically go from one hostel to another intentionally searching for students involved in the protest against the fee hike”.

They also criticised the JNU administration for its “extremely slow” response even as students reported continued violence. They also questioned why the police did not take any action against the attackers and why the street lights on the road leading to the JNU main gate were switched off.

Also Read: JNU Violence: Bombay and Delhi IITs, NEHU Students’ Union Express Solidarity

“At a time when protests all over the country are emphasizing the need to protect the Indian Constitution and the basic principles of liberty, equality and the right to freedom of speech, the unprecedented attack on JNU students and faculty is unacceptable,” the said.

The signatories demanded that JNU registrar Pramod Kumar and the vice chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar take “moral responsibility” for their failure to guarantee the safety of their students and faculty members. “Such a total breakdown in campus safety is unconscionable,” they said, asking that the injured receive prompt medical aid and a fair and impartial inquiry be conducted into the events of January 5 to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Read the full statement below.


Solidarity Statement condemning the attack on the Students and Professors of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on 5 January 2020 

As teachers, researchers, students and concerned individuals in India and abroad, we strongly condemn the attack by masked goons (allegedly belonging to the ABVP) on unarmed JNU students and faculty on the evening of 5 January 2020 with rocks and rods while the police looked on.


Timeline of the attack and context:

The JNU students have been on strike over the past few months against a steep fee hike, which will make the university inaccessible to the economically and socially marginalised sections. The unprovoked violence on the protesting students was started by the JNU security staff on January 4, who were ordered to break the strike. Later in the day, some ABVP activists were caught on camera attacking the protesting students. It was against this violence that the JNU Teachers’ Association had given a call for a peace meeting on campus on January 5, 2020. While the meeting was taking place, a group of masked goons from outside the campus started attacking the peacefully assembled students and teachers with rods and bricks. Eyewitnesses interviewed on NDTV suggest that more than 50 armed goons entered the campus around 6:30 pm.

Breakdown of campus security:

There was a complete breakdown of campus security on January 5. Masked attackers were allowed to freely walk all across campus and systematically go from from one hostel to another intentionally searching for students involved in the protest against the fee hike. Videos have emerged from specific hostels with broken windows, showing large stones thrown around, and cars vandalized by masked goons. They entered women’s hostels even as campus security stood by silently.

News media is showing horrifying images of the attack on the JNUSU President, Aishe Ghosh — visibly bleeding and seriously injured. Currently, thirty students and thirteen faculty have been injured and are in the trauma centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). At least three of them including Ms. Ghosh are reportedly in critical condition.  Media shared images of at least one faculty member, Professor Sucharita Sen who was also attacked and suffered head injuries.

Campus lock down and slow response of university administrators:

Throughout the shocking attack, the JNU administration was extremely slow to respond even as students reported continued violence. Videos emerged from JNU showing very little visible presence of the police while the attack was underway. The Registrar of JNU issued a statement only at 9 PM, two hours after the attack had begun. The Vice Chancellor at the time of writing this statement has done little to reassure students or faculty of their physical wellbeing.

Why such violence? And why now?

JNU is a premier research university with a long history of inclusive admissions policies and a questioning academic culture.  This attack has come twenty-three days after the police violence in Jamia Millia Islamia University, Aligarh Muslim University, and Cotton College against students and those peacefully dissenting against discriminatory policies of the government in India.

Instead of police, this time masked goons are deliberately creating a “culture of fear” on public university campuses. Except for one NDTV reporter, media was not provided access into the university. Yogendra Yadav, President of the Swaraj party, was stopped from entering the campus and was attacked for speaking to the media. Street lights were turned off outside the North Gate.  Police inaction at JNU on January 5 enabled the attackers to proceed unhindered.

Public university campuses offer a safe, unarmed space for debate, discussion and learning for students from diverse regional and class backgrounds. They are the lifeblood of democracy.

At a time when protests all over the country are emphasizing the need to protect the Indian Constitution and the basic principles of liberty, equality and the right to freedom of speech, the unprecedented attack on JNU students and faculty is unacceptable.

We are forced to conclude that the administration and the police were complicit in facilitating the attack.

  1. We demand that the Registrar Pramod Kumar and the University Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar take moral responsibility for their failure to guarantee the safety of their students and faculty. Such a total breakdown in campus safety is unconscionable.
  2. We demand prompt medical aid to those injured.
  3. We demand a fair and impartial inquiry into the events of January 5 that will hold the perpetrators of the attack accountable.

We stand in solidarity with our colleagues, students and faculty at JNU.

Below are names of some prominent people who have signed the statement. Click here for the full list.


  1. Jinee Lokaneeta, Professor, Drew University
  2. Bhavani Raman, Associate Professor, University of Toronto
  3. Gopal Guru, Former Professor, JNU, Editor, EPW
  4. Arjun Appadurai, Professor, New York University and Hertie School (Berlin)
  5. Veena Das, Professor, Johns Hopkins University
  6. David Harvey, Distinguished Professor, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York
  7. G N Devy, Chairman, People’s Linguistic Survey of India
  8. Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History, University of Oxford
  9. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University
  10. Joan Scott, Professor Emerita School of Social Science Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
  11. Natalie Zemon Davis, Professor of History Emeritus, Princeton University
  12. Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Professor, New York University
  13. Chayanika Shah, Member, LABIA – A Queer Feminist LBT Collective Mumbai
  14. Geeta Seshu, Joint Founder-Editor, Free Speech Collective
  15. Nandita Haksar, Advocate and Writer
  16. Romila Thapar, Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  17. Akeel Bilgrami, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
  18. Alladi Sitaram, Professor (Retd.), Indian Statistical Institute
  19. Soni Sori, Activist, Bastar
  20. Nirjhari Sinha, Chairperson Jan Sangharsh Manch, Ahmedabad
  21. Rajesh Mahapatra Journalist
  22. Shabnam Hashmi, Founding Trustee, Anhad
  23. Ali Kazimi, Filmmaker and Associate Professor, York University, Canada
  24. V. Geetha, Independent Scholar
  25. Sugato Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University
  26. Prof. C. Lakshmanan, Dalit Intellectual Collective
  27. Saheli- Women’s Resource Centre, Autonomous Women’s Group
  28. Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker
  29. Rinaldo Walcott, Professor, University of Toronto
  30. Utsa Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, JNU
  31. Dolly Kikon, Faculty. The University of Melbourne
  32. Anjali Monteiro, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  33. Tarun Bhartiya, Raiot Collective
  34. Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
  35. Jodi Dean, Professor, Hobart-William Smith
  36. Prabhat Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, JNU.
  37. Premesh Lalu, Professor, Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape
  38. Jayant Kripalani, Writer Actor
  39. Francis Cody, Associate Professor, University of Toronto
  40. Ujjwal Kumar Singh, University of Delhi
  41. Chinnaiah Jangam, Associate Professor, Carleton University, ON, Canada
  42. Rohan D’Souza, Associate Professor, Kyoto University
  43. Sangay Mishra, Assistant Professor, Drew University
  44. Malavika Kasturi, Department of History, University of Toronto
  45. Dr Subir Sinha, SOAS, London
  46. Aparna Balachandran, University of Delhi
  47. Ruchi Chaturvedi,Senior Lecturer, University of Cape Town
  48. Deborah Sutton, Lancaster University
  49. Avinash K Jha, SRCC, DU
  50. Nandini Bhattacharya, University of Dundee
  51. Rochelle Pinto, Fellow, L’Institut d’Études Avancées
  52. Mira Kamdar, Author
  53. Deepak Mehta, Professor, Ashoka University
  54. Sudipta Kaviraj, Professor, Columbia University
  55. Prof. T. Dharmaraj Professor and Head, Madurai Kamaraj University
  56. Reena Mohan, Filmmaker
  57. U. Sabasiva Rao, Desi Disa , Bahul Bahujan voice
  58. Shuddhabrata Sengupta Artist, Writer, Raqs Media Collective
  59. Zoya Hasan , Professor Emerita, JNU
  60. Deba Ranjan, Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangthan, Odisha
  61. Aienla Ozukum Publishing Director, Aleph Book Company
  62. Seema Chishti, Journalist
  63. Barbara Harriss-White, Visiting Prof CIS&LS JNU and Wolfson College Oxford University
  64. Zillah Eisenstein, Prof Emerita, Ithaca College, NY, USA
  65. Caren Kaplan, Professor Emerita, UC Davis
  66. Shromona Mandal NYU Asian American Political Activism Coalition
  67. Ambarish Rai, National Convener, Right to Education Forum
  68. Priyamvada Gopal, University of Cambridge
  69. Mary E John, Professor, CWDS
  70. Vivek Shanbhag, Writer
  71. Tejaswini Niranjana, Professor, Lingnan University Hong Kong
  72. Geeta Kapur, Art Critic
  73. Neeladri Bhattacharya, Former Professor, CHS, JNU
  74. Rajeev Bhargava, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
  75. Mimi Choudhury, Independent publisher
  76. Sarbari Sinha, Deputy Editor Frontline
  77. Gyan Prakash , Professor, Princeton University
  78. Ania Loomba, Professor University of Pennsylvania
  79. Chandler Davis, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
  80. J Devika, Professor, Centre for Development Studies.
  81. Satya P Mohanty, Professor, Cornell University
  82. Keval Arora, Teacher, Delhi University
  83. Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer, Social Activist, Chennai
  84. Adrija Roychowdhury, Reporter, Hindustan times
  85. Aditi Nigam, Journalist
  86. Christopher Pinney, Professor UCL and GIAN lecturer at JNU
  87. Imran Khan, Artist, Theatre I Entertainment Trust
  88. Veena Bakshi, Director, Film Industry
  89. Bedabrata Pain, film-maker and ex-NASA scientist
  90. Usuf Chikte, Emeritus Professor, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  91. Ajantha Subramanian, Harvard University
  92. Farzana Doctor, Author
  93. T. Jayaraman, Professor, School of Habitat Studies
  94. Tariq islam, Former Elected Member Executive Council and Member Academic Council, Court, Former Chairman and Professor in Philosophy, AMU, Aligarh
  95. R Vijaya Sankar, Editor, Frontline
  96. Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Professor in History (retired), Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
  97. Abhijit Roy, Professor, Department of Film Studies, Jadavpur University
  98. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta , Journalist, Author, Publisher, Documentary Film-maker and Teacher
  99. Mahesh Rangarajan, Professor, Ashoka University
  100. Srinath Raghavan, Professor, Ashoka University
  101. Shabnam Minwalla, Writer
  102. Annie Zaidi, Writer/teacher
  103. Satish Deshpande, Professor, Delhi University
  104. Purushottam Agrawal, Former Professor, JNU
  105. Shilpa Phadke, TISS, Mumbai
  106. Ranabir Chakravarti, Retired Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
  107. Ashish Awasthi, Vice president PUCL Lucknow
  108. Anita Dube, Artist
  109. Priyanka Basu, Curator, The British Library
  110. Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh
  111. Pratap Raychaudhuri, Professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
  112. Poulomi Saha, Professor, UC Berkeley
  113. Brian Larkin, Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University
  114. Batul Mukhtiar, Filmmaker
  115. Pritam Singh, Visiting Scholar Wolfson College University of Oxford and Professor Emeritus Oxford Brookes Business School
  116. MP Ahirwar, Professor of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, BHU
  117. Amrita Chhachhi, Associate Professor International Institute of Social Studies
  118. M Madhav Prasad, EFL University
  119. Madhavan K. Palat, Professor, Former Dean of the School of Social Sciences, JNU
  120. Vivek Dhareshwar, Scholar-in-Residence, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and       Technology
  121. K Srilata, Poet and Professor, IIT Madras
  122. Veena Naregal, Professor, Institute of  Economic Growth, Delhi
  123. Carin Runciman, Associate Professor, University of Johannesburg
  124. Kama Maclean, Professor, University of NSW
  125. William Gould, Professor of Indian History, University of Leeds
  126. Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee, Poet and writer.
  127. Pushpamala N, Artist, Bangalore
  128. Jayati Sarkar, Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India
  129. Constance Penley, Professor, University of California-Santa Barbara
  130. Amman Madan, Professor, Azim Premji University
  131. MMP SINGH , Editor , Naya Path, General Secretary, Janwadi Lekhak Sangh & former DUTA president
  132. Karuna Mantena, Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
  133. Shail Mayaram, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
  134. Tom Tomlinson, Emeritus Professor, SOAS, London
  135. Lalit Vachani, Filmmaker, University of Göttingen
  136. Surabhi Ranganathan, Senior Lecturer, University of Cambridge
  137. David Gordon White , Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
  138. Rahul Mukherji, Professor, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg
  139. Uttara Ramaswamy, The Tribune, Chandigarh
  140. Thierry Di Costanzo, University of Strasbourg, France
  141. Shannon Wells-Lassagne, Professor, Université de Bourgogne-Franche Comté
  142. Sarah Bracke, Professor of Sociology, University of Amsterdam
  143. Boddu Bhaskar, Senior Journalist , Hyderabad
  144. Jane Buckingham, Associate  Professor of  History, University of Canterbury, NZ
  145. David Petts, Associate Professor, Durham University , UK
  146. Christian Gutleben, Professor, Université Côte d’Azur, France
  147. Smarika Lulz, Humboldt University, Berlin
  148. Monique De Mattia-Viviès, Professor, Air Marseille University
  149. Françoise Dupeyron-Lafay, Professor, Université Paris est Créteil
  150. Bordet Geneviève, Senior Lecturer Université de Paris
  151. Benjamin Nolan, UMass, Amherst
  152. Chris Moffat, Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London
  153. Ian Cook, Professor, Exeter University
  154. Marysia Zalewski, Professor, Cardiff University, Wales, UK
  155. Henriette Gunkel, Professor, Ruhr-University Bochum
  156. Irfan Ahmad, Prof. Max Planck Institute for Religious & Ethnic Diversity, Gottingen, Germany
  157. Dr Helen Pritchard, Lecturer, Goldsmiths University of London
  158. Dr. Ellen Berry, Editor, Rhizomes:Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge
  159. Lars Peter Laamann, Senior Lecturer, SOAS (University of London)
  160. Brian Hatcher, Tufts University
  161. Rochona Majumdar, Associate Professor, University of Chicago
  162. Susan S. Bean, Emerita Senior Curator of Southern Asian Art, Peabody Essex Museum
  163. Moulinath Banerjee, Professor of Statistics, University of Michigan
  164. Maria Fernandez , Political Scientist, UCM (Madrid) & University of London (Refugee Protection & Forced Migration Studies)
  165. Joan Martinez-Alier, Professor, Autonomous University of Barcelona (Catalonia / Spain)
  166. Richard Fung Professor Emeritus, OCAD University, Toronto
  167. Isabel Huacuja Aonso, Assistant Professor, South Asian History Cal State San Bernardino
  168. Patricia Simonson, Associate Professor, Universidad Nacional de Colombi
  169. John Greyson, Professor, York University
  170. Sergio Villamayor, Ramon y Cajal Fellow, Autonomous University of Barcelona
  171. Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Professor, University of Sheffield
  172. Clara Han, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University
  173. Alexandra Poulain, Professor of Postcolonial Studies, Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris (France)
  174. Daniel Morgan, Associate Professor, University of Chicago
  175. José-Manuel Barreto, Lecturer, University of the Andes, Bogotá
  176. Miles Larmer, Professor of African History, University of Oxford
  177. Tyler Williams, Assistant Professor, University of Chicago
  178. Shrenik Rao, Editor, The Madras Courier
  179. Shivani Tibrewala, Writer | Director, No License Yet
  180. Pascale Amiot, Professor, University of Perpignan, France
  181. William Mazzarella, Professor, University of Chicago