The Delhi Police on Friday, 10 January 2020, said it had identified nine students, including Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union President Aishe Ghosh, as part of its ongoing investigations into unrest that rocked the central varsity on 5 January, this year.
Addressing mediapersons the police said that these suspects were identified from viral videos and that it is merely sharing updates of their investigations and that this evidence should not be seen as conclusive.
According to Dr Joy Tirkey, DCP, Crime Branch, Delhi Police, the evidence collected through videos was run through students and through the administrations database. Tirkey also said the police has not detained any of the suspects and that it would serve notices to them.
Highlights of Briefing
Police claim SFI, AISA, AISF and DSF (so-called ‘Left’ groups) members were involved in incidents at server room on 3 January and 4 January.
Police claim SFI, AISF, AISA and DSF members were allegedly involved in a violent altercation with students on the morning of 5 January over registration for courses.
Police claim Aishe Ghose was among students from SFI, AISF, AISA and DSF who attacked Periyar Hostel on afternoon of 5 January, with masked faces.
Police say subsequent peace meeting at T-point as well Sabarmati and other Hostels was disrupted by a group with masked faces, but this time does not attribute this to any group.
Affiliation of 7 out of the 9 people identified by police specified to be with ‘Left’ groups, including Aishe Ghosh. In screengrabs shown by police, none of them are carrying any weapons, and only one of them, Chunchun Kumar, is seen engaged in potentially violent activity.
Affiliation of remaining 2 people, Yogendra Shaurya Bhardwaj and Vikas Patel, not specified. Both previously identified by media as belonging to ABVP.
Aishe Named as Suspect
According to police, JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh has been identified in one of the viral videos. According to a PDF shared by Delhi Police, Ghosh can be seen with a red bag “in the video of Periyar hostel vandalism.” It further adds that Ghosh led “masked violent comrade gang in hostels.”
According to the police, a group of masked people had vandalised specific rooms in Periyar hostel on 4 January, which included Aishe Ghosh, among other JNUSU members.
Another suspect identified by the police is Pankaj Mishra, from JNU’s School of Social Sciences and a resident of Mahi-Mandvi Hostel. According to the police, he is seen along with Aishe Ghosh outside Periyar Hostel. It is not clear if he is a member of any student outfit.
In a different picture, the Delhi Police has identified former JNU student Chunchun Kumar, who they claim is an AISA activist and was seen pelting stone outside Periyar Hostel.
Sucheta Talukdar, who the police says is a member of the Students Federation of India and a student of JNU’s School of Social Science, has also been named as a suspect in the JNU violence. Police has not clarified if Talukdar is a suspect in the attack inside Periyar hostel.
No Mention of ABVP?
Police has also shared a picture of PhD scholar at JNU, Yogendra Yadav, who they claim was the administrator of Unity Against Left – a WhatsAPP group reportedly comprising ABVP members who allegedly attacked Sabarmati Hostel on the evening of 5 January.
Dr Tirkey added that in the attack on Sabarmati hostel, specific rooms were targeted while suggesting that the same would have been difficult to carry out by outsiders who often find it difficult to navigate JNU, especially after dark.
Along with Bhardwaj, police also shared a picture of a student identified as Vikas Patel.
A JNU student, who didn’t want to be named, claimed both Patel and Bhardwaj are members of ABVP. When contacted, Delhi Police Spokesperson Anil Mittal said that they can’t confirm if Bhardwaj and Patel are from ABVP, while adding that that the duo were in favour of the winter registration that the police claims was disrupted by members of Left organisations.
Repeated calls to ABVP representatives from JNU could not go through.
Apart from the six above, the police has also identified three JNU students, Priya Ranjan, Vaskar Vijay Mech and Dolan Samantha as suspects.
Questions for Delhi Police Based on Briefing
For all the incidents on 3 January, 4 January, and at 11:30 am and 3:45 pm on 5 January, the police have identified who was responsible: SFI, AISA, AISF and DSF. This obviously raises questions for these groups to answer. However, how is it that the police can identify who was responsible for all these incidents, but fail to know who was responsible for everything which came after, including the violence at Sabarmati hostel?
In their press conference, the police said they didn’t just rely on the CCTV footage for this, but also on what the JNU Cyclops security guards saw, as well as what plainclothes policemen inside the campus saw. So how did they not help identify who was responsible for the violence? If the claim is that CCTV was not working, how did they obtain CCTV footage of the Periyar hostel attack?
When it comes to the 7 students with alleged ‘Left’ affiliation, on what basis has it been claimed that these students were engaged in violence when apart from Chunchun Kumar (ex-student with AISA links), none of them are seen carrying any weapons or involved in any ostensibly violent activity?
Is the text seen on the screengrab identifying Aishe Ghosh added by the Delhi Police, or from some external source? The language used – “Leading her masked violent comrade gang in hostels“ – is hardly indicative of fairness.
Why has the affiliation of the remaining 2 students – Yogendra Shaurya Bhardwaj and Vikas Patel – not been specified, despite material in the public domain linking them with the ABVP? If Vikas Patel has been identified from the photo in which he is standing with Shiv Poojan Mandal (originally wrongly identified as Patel), why hasn’t Mandal or any of the other students holding lathis from that image been identified as well?
Bhardwaj and Patel has been linked to the ABVP by media and social media respectively as shown below.
Yogendra Bhardwaj: Stories by media outlets including Newslaundry here.
Vikas Patel: ABVP JNU Page has a video identifying who Vikas Patel is (see at 1:50 or so).
Why did the press briefing include a reference to the manner in which JNUSU has conducted its protests before and after the incidents being investigated by the SIT – which are not within its purview? Does this not amount to a prejudicing of the public against students, at a time when, by the police’s own admission, the investigation is not complete?
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