Shah has been holding rallies and events as part of the Narendra Modi-led government’s efforts to counter protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. However, the Union home minister has been bringing up jailing people during his speeches, referring to the 2016 incident at Jawaharlal Nehru University which led to sedition case against former Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and others. (Scroll and The Wire’s reports poke holes in the evidence provided by the Delhi police in the case.)
On Sunday, Shah claimed: “Some students raised anti-national slogans in JNU saying, ‘Bharat tere tukde ho ek hazaar, Inshallah, Inshallah’. But Rahul Baba and Kejriwal say, ‘Save them’... Are they your cousins? Shouldn’t they be sent to jail? Anybody who raises anti-national slogans belongs in jail.”
At Sunday’s rally also Shah egged on his audience as people at the meeting raised slogans like “Desh ke gaddaronke, jute maro salonko” (traitors should be slapped with footwear) while the home minister asked, “Speak loudly. Should they not be put in jails?”
Here let us note that the home minister has made no public statement on the JNU attack and the Delhi Police, which reports to him, has been accused by the students union, the teachers association and the hostel wardens of little to no help during the rampage on campus.
On Sunday, a report by a fact-finding committee of the Congress called the attack “state sponsored” and alleged that Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar had masterminded it.
“The important question is what did the administration and Delhi police do to stop the attack,” Sushmita Dev, panel member said.
The report called for a criminal investigation against Jagadesh Kumar and his removal as VC, while asking for an independent judicial inquiry into the violence on January 5.
Delhi Police’s moves
At its press conference last Friday, Delhi Police had equated the violence on January 5 with the scuffles between students groups that had taken place on previous days.
On Saturday, JNU Students’ Union held a press conference and put forward a chronology of the events that took place on January 5.
JNUSU said its president Aishe Ghosh, who sustained injuries during the violence, had messaged Vasant Kunj (North) SHO Ritu Raj, Inspector Sanjeev Mandal and Joint Commissioner of Police Anand Mohan on WhatsApp at 3 pm regarding the violence inside the campus.
“They were informed at 3 pm and the messages were read at 3.07 pm but the messages were ignored,” the JNUSU said. They said Ghosh spoke with with Mandal at 3.35 pm on the phone.
The union also alleged that the mob entered Sabarmati and targeted the rooms deliberately. Police gypsy was present inside the campus around 5 pm, till the 6 pm, they said, adding that the goons kept thrashing students and police did not do anything. At 6.45 pm, the VC called the police to stay stationed at the North Gate and not come inside.
According to the Indian Express, two wardens of the Sabarmati Hostel, which bore the brunt of the violence, reported that they had alerted both the police and the JNU security at 4pm after seeing masked mob with lathis and rods going out of the hostel. However, they said no help arrived for nearly four hours,.
Delhi Police has claimed the violence took place far away from where their personnel had been stationed.
Former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar told PTI on Sunday that the police could have intervened even without VC’s request.
“More importantly, the special branch and the local police, which was aware of how things were happening over the last few days (in JNU), should have foreseen the events and based on its own reports it could have intervened,” he said.
As the Delhi Police’s action, or lack thereof, raise questions from various quarters, the home minister’s silence here is deafening.
(With inputs from PTI)