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Year After JNU Violence, the Investigation Is Going Nowhere

Police say the probe is at a standstill because of the COVID-19 lockdown.

New Delhi: A year after a group of masked people wreaked havoc in the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus – beating students and teachers, and vandalising property – the probe into the violence has barely moved at all. According to the Indian Express, there have been no arrests or chargesheets, and the university’s internal investigation has been dissolved.

The Delhi Police had identified 15 students as suspects, the report notes, but once the lockdown was announced and all students asked to leave campus, the probe has come to a standstill. Just days after the violence, on January 9, 2020, the Delhi Police released the names of nine students – seven identified as members of Left-leaning groups, and two from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP, the RSS’s students’ wing).

Immediately after the violence on January 5, 2020, a number of students and teachers at the varsity told The Wire that the police had stood by and let the violence take place, instead of intervening immediately. They had also alleged that the attack appeared premeditated, and the masked group seemed to know which rooms belonged to Kashmiri and Muslim students in particular.

Three FIRs were filed soon after the violence at the Vasant Kunj police station soon after the violence, but the probe was then handed over the Delhi Police Crime Branch. A special investigation team was set up and visited the campus – but the same team was also later tasked with probing the communal violence in North-East Delhi and the alleged COVID-19 protocol violations at Nizamuddin Markaz.

However, as The Wire has pointed out before, these FIRs too had some glaring discrepancies, bringing the police’s role into question.

Also read: Police Watched as Mob Attacked Ambulance: An Eyewitness Account of Events at JNU Main Gate

The SIT questioned 88 people in JNU, according to the Indian Express. “After questioning, we found names of some other suspects, but since the lockdown was announced, the team was not able to gather more conclusive evidence against them,” a police source told newspaper.

Very soon after the violence, students and independent news website’s like Alt News had recognised one of the masked people based on CCTV footage – Delhi University student Komal Sharma. “She claimed during her questioning that some people were trying to frame her, and denied her involvement in the violence. She also claimed she was not present on the campus that day,” the police told the Indian Express.

Registrar Pramod Kumar told the newspaper that since the police investigation was on, the internal probe committee had been disbanded.