Published: 05th January 2020
JNU under seige: How did a mob unleash terror despite Delhi Police being there?
Students said that since yesterday there had been trouble so police were on campus in large numbers but did nothing to stop the violence.
A mob of 50-60 people with masks on their faces and weapons like iron rods, sticks, stones walked on the roads of India's capital city and casually into the gates of the top campuses in the country, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Past the security, past the police. No one stopped them, even though they had clearly done little to 'mask' their intentions.
The answer is simple: India's top university was just besieged from within. Perhaps not everyone who wore those masks had a student ID card, but the word from the students is crystal clear - the attackers knew their way around the college and they knew no security or police would get in their way. Like a conspiracy theory movie gone wrong.
Is the ABVP to blame?
Students are also sharing screenshots of WhatsApp conversations allegedly among ABVP group members including people who are rumored to be among the administration. These messages insinuate that there had been proper planning before the attack and they had decided to enter from the front gates. "All the evidence is there. So many screenshots of the group members discussing how to attack us," a student said. The screenshots also suggest that the students had found enough support from inside the campus to launch the attack without any hindrance.
However, the ABVP has told media that they had nothing to do with the attacks. "This is not just the ABVP, they brought others too. But we definitely recognise them, we know it cannot be anyone else. And we know the amount of police we have on campus and we know that they did nothing to stop the violence," a student said.
Since yesterday, students have complained that several ABVP members allegedly beat students protesting against the fee hike. Several were injured but what happened on Sunday evening has left the country in shock. Videos from the evening show students, especially women students getting chased and beaten up even as they filmed their attackers and refused to budge.
Protest and be punished - that is the dictum
Students said that the JNU Teacher's Association had planned a peaceful March along with the students against the fee hike proposed by the administration. After massive protests, the JNU adminstration had decided to go ahead with their suggested amendments. However, students refused to register for the upcoming academic year. Today afternoon, the JNUTA, JNUSU and students had reached the Periyar Hostel during their march when people allegedly from the ABVP began to throw stones at the protesters. "We were going about our march, when ABVP members began to throw huge stones at us. Then there was a scuffle as many of the students were grievously injured by the stones. Eventually, we dispersed and a large number of us gathered at 'Tea Point' which is directly opposite Sabarmati Hostel," a student said.
Within the next half an hour, the students watched dumbfounded as the mob entered the front gates yielding weapons. "We initially thought we'd stand up to them but then looking at the weapons, we were terrified. After all we had no way of protecting ourselves, so we ran," the student recalled. They all ran helter-skelter but most ended up at Sabarmati because that was after all, home. A place of protection. They did not even in their slightest mind think that the mob would enter the hostel.
But they did.
Violence beyond rhyme or reason
The students say the mob thrashed their way through the entire hostel and beat up women and men ruthlessly. They broke down doors, windows and terrorised the people. In a video, shot by a female student, students can be seen shouting and screaming at the mob while telling peers to document everything that was happening. Large groups of people can be seen walking past with sticks and rods in their hands, one member of the mob eventually charges at the student taking the video and seemingly beats her up as well.
So far, about 15 students have been admitted to AIIMS and two are said to be in a serious condition.
The students also said that the ambulance is not being allowed inside the campus, one person also put up a status on FB claiming that he was a part of a medical team but their vehicle was vandalised by the mob and so they could not go in to help the injured.
Hitting back at the JNUSU?
A member of the JNUSU, a school councillor, said she ended up in the dhaba kitchen and her friends apparently made her hide inside a basin. "We heard they were going after all the popular faces from the fee hike protests. Especially the JNUSU. So my friends said if the mob sees me they will thrash me, so they hid me. But after a while, they asked me to move to someplace safer," she said. When we spoke to her, the school councillor said she was still hiding as she spoke to us. It had been hours after the violence first broke out. She had not stopped shivering yet, she said. And she wasn't sure when she would be able to come out of her hiding place.
"The police and the security just stood there as the mob attacked us. They did nothing. They are beating people indiscriminately but are focused on attacking JNUSU members and other activists and leaders," she alleged. Another student said that many rushed into their rooms and locked themselves but a physically challenged student could not lock the door fast enough so the mob went inside the room and beat him up.
"When the mob entered, they were saying all kinds of things. But one of them even said that they had acid but entered up hurting himself as he threw it and then ran out screaming," she recalled.
"I saw so many of my friends get thrashed. I saw Aishe Ghosh bleeding profusely. One person's entire eye was swollen and she was injured quite badly. So we decided to take her to the hospital in our personal vehicle but just as we were trying to make our way to the main gate, the goons appeared again and so we ran back," she said. In a video, Aishe could be seen weeping as blood oozes out of her head.
Still under seige
Another student said that he was helping a visually challenged student go to the library when all hell broke loose. "Just a little while after the stone pelting happened, the mob showed up. The police knew there had already been trouble, so they were all there. But they did nothing. After hiding in Sabarmati and seeing what unfolded there, I ran to the safety of my hostel room. Then an ABVP member knocked on my door and asked me to stay safe, almost like a threat. I was petrified and I didn't want to be alone," he said. So after he knew that the ABVP member had left, he walked out and could see hordes of people allegedly from the ABVP standing outside his hostel.
"I know I had to get out so I ran to my professor's residence. A bunch of us are now here. We are scared and helpless. We don't know what to do. My hostel is under their control now. The campus too," he said.
Some students say they are scared to go back to their hostels and prefer staying outside in the open. "What if they are in the hostel, waiting for us? They are still on a rampage. We are getting messages that they are near Tefla, some near main Cauvery Hostel. We can't risk going back to the hostels, they could come from anywhere," she said.
"Our hostels are completely broken too. How can we possibly go back there? The police is telling us not to gather in groups and disperse but where will we go?" Another student asks.
The students have also heard that members of the Bajrang Dal are standing outside the campus yelling slogans and holding weapons.
However, the students and citizens have also called for a protest and have gathered at the main gate. Yogender Yadav, who arrived at the scene was also allegedly manhandled. He claimed the police had blocked off the roads and are allowing the violence to carry on.