JNU V-C M Jagadesh Kumar on Wednesday. (Express Photo: Anil Sharma)
At 6.24 pm Sunday — by the time Jawaharlal Nehru University had already seen violence at Periyar hostel and an attack on faculty and students at Sabarmati dhaba — Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar sent a WhatsApp message to the DCP (Southwest), the ACP and the SHO of Vasant Kunj (North) police station. But instead of requesting them to enter the campus and bring the mob of masked men under control, he told police to be “stationed at the gates”.
“Considering the volatile situation in JNU campus, I request you to station police at the gates of JNU campus so that they can quickly reach the trouble spot in the campus if a law and order situation arises,”Jagadesh Kumar wrote in the message, which is now part of an enquiry report prepared by a fact-finding committee formed to “probe the sequence of events” and “negligence on part of police”.
The committee, headed by Joint Commissioner of Police (Western Range) Shalini Singh, was constituted on instructions of Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik. The report is expected to be shared with the Home Ministry in the coming days.
As reported by The Indian Express Wednesday, according to another report prepared by police, masked “miscreants” were first seen gathering inside JNU at 2.30 pm, and 23 calls went from inside the campus to the Police Control Room (PCR) between then and 6 pm.
After the V-C’s WhatsApp message, the next communication between the university and police was when Registrar Pramod Kumar handed over an official letter to them at 7.45 pm, “seeking increased presence and deployment on the premises”.
Registrar Kumar, when contacted Tuesday, had claimed that “police were on campus by 6.30 pm” and that they had been “informally” informed before the letter was submitted. He had claimed that the Vice-Chancellor had communicated with police around 5.30 pm.
Express Cartoon by E P Unny. Click on the image to see more.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the Vice-Chancellor had said: “If there is a law and order situation here, we don’t rush to police immediately. We will see if our own security can handle it. But when it goes out of hand, and we feel the security cannot handle it, we definitely approach police because we don’t want any innocent people to be injured. On Sunday also, we did this.”
According to a Delhi Police report, the campus had been on the boil through the day. Sources said the report stated that between 3.45 pm and 4.15 pm, “about 40-50 miscreants with their faces covered and armed with sticks” barged into Periyar hostel shouting and attacking students. They also smashed windows and damaged doors before the situation was brought under control with police “intervention”, sources said.
Police outside JNU; 700 officers were called in. (Express photo: Abhinav Saha)
Police sources said DCP (Southwest) had visited the campus at 5-5.15 pm, but returned to the main gate as the situation appeared “normal” at the time.
The second spell of violence started before 6 pm, when members of the JNU Teachers’ Association and some students had gathered at Sabarmati dhaba for a ‘peace march’. According to eyewitnesses, the protest came under stone-pelting by masked men, who then barged into the nearby Sabarmati hostel and ran riot.