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JNU students and teachers recall the January 5 night when an armed, masked mob attacked them

Police has rejected the charge that they did not reach JNU on time despite calls by students and teachers.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 10, 2020, 07.34 PM IST
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JNU students, teachers recall the January 5 night
JNU students, teachers recall the January 5 night
A girl said, ‘Andhe hain to kya hua, maaro s#### ko’. When I called 100, I was told, ‘Pito, phir hum aayenge

-Surya Prakash, a visually handicapped student


Room 051, Sabarmati Hostel. There is an image of BR Ambedkar on its brown door. Inside, it looks like any other in a university hostel. There is a rope stretched across the room on which clothes are hung. There is a cupboard full of certificates. There is a kettle to heat water in this bitter winter in Delhi. There are a couple of buckets in a corner. A lunch of rice, roti, aloo and mutter is getting cold in a steel thali placed on a chair.

There is nothing normal about this room, though. Shards of glass are still scattered on a table. The three glass panes above the wooden door have been smashed. Surya Prakash, a visually handicapped student who is doing his MPhil in Sanskrit, is still shaking in his grey sweatshirt. “I can’t believe it happened in JNU,” he says on Monday, less than 24 hours since he was attacked. “At around 6.45 in the evening, I heard a group of people moving in the hostel shouting abuses in Hindi. I was studying in my room. They seem to have hit the glass panes above my door with a rod. Shards of glass rained over me, but the hoodie protected my head. I cried ‘I am blind.’ They broke open the door. I kept my head down on my computer; they hit with me with sticks on my back and arms. They were reeking of liquor. I heard them say Jai Shri Ram. They remembered Ram. I cried, ‘I am blind.’ Then a girl said, ‘Andhe hain to kya hua, maaro s#$%e ko (What if he is blind, beat him).’ A little later, someone said, ‘Leave him. Let us go to 156. Go, go.’”

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What did he do after they left? “I called 100. I was told, ‘Pito, phir hum aayenge (Get beaten, we will come).’” Prakash is from Deoria in Uttar Pradesh and this is his third year in the university. “I think I should leave JNU,” he says. “I am getting threatening calls every few minutes, asking me not to speak to the media. Yesterday, in the fear and uncertainty I felt, I was scared of giving out my name. But now I want to tell everyone what happened.”

When did he get medical attention? “At about 8.15 pm, I was taken to AIIMS Trauma Centre. I was hurting all over.”

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police rejected the charge that they did not reach JNU on time despite several calls by students and teachers. Delhi Police spokesperson Mandeep Singh Randhawa said, “We have responded to PCR calls, and law-and-order situation professionally.”

Room No. 156, which the attackers mentioned as their target while they were attacking Prakash, is of a “minority student from Jammu”. The room is locked from outside. You can see the wreckage through the window, the glass pane of which has been shattered. The room has been vandalised. On the floor is a fire extinguisher which was reportedly used to break open the door.

They were shouting Bharat Mata ki Jai and I feared my room would be targeted

-A PhD student of the Centre for Physical Studies

In another room on the first floor of Sabarmati hostel, a PhD student of the Centre for Physical Studies is packing his bags to go home. On the floor is a book called “Quantum Optics”. He has to write his thesis on quantum circuit in what could be the first quantum computer, but now this has to get home in Uttar Pradesh and calm down his frightened mother. “I will be back when the situation is normal,” he says, requesting not to disclose his name.

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Where was he when the attack happened. “I was in my room. At around 7 pm I heard some students screaming ‘Bachao bachao’. I opened the door and pulled in Shashi Bhushan Samad.” The visually impaired student was earlier in the news when he was lathi charged by the police during a protest march. The mob outside banged on my door. Then I moved Shashi to the balcony and locked the door. I heard them go from one room to another. They were shouting Bharat Mata ki Jai and I feared my room would be targeted. I thought Shashi should be moved to safety. I don’t know how we did it, but he clambered from my balcony to the next room’s balcony. Then I heard them break my window. My body was trembling. They could have easily come into the room. I jumped down from my first-floor balcony and ran.”

I saw men carrying lathis and wearing sport shoes being escorted by the police

-Vyom Anil, second year PhD student


Vyom Anil says on January 5, students took a march against ABVP attacks. When they reached Periyar hostels, stones were pelted at the march from inside the hostel. “We dispersed. It was later that the mob came in throwing bricks, assaulting students and beating teachers. They were going towards hostels. I ran for my life. I saw men carrying lathis and wearing sport shoes being escorted by the police. They were smashing cars. It was only around 9 pm that things quietened down on campus. I couldn’t go back to my hostel room that night. We stayed outside. They could have come back.”

Who let these armed men inside the campus? And after all that had happened, who gave them safe passage out of the campus?

-Saugata Bhaduri, professor at the Centre for English Studies


Saugata Bhaduri, professor at the Centre for English Studies, was one of the first to be hit by the goons. The JNUTA meeting had just got over and he and two colleagues, Sonajharia Minz, professor, School of Computer and Systems Sciences and Shukla Sawant, professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, had reached the Sabarmati bus stop when “I saw a huge mob of around 50 people advancing towards us from the Periyar road”.

Most of them were masked but all of them were armed, he says. “As they came closer, they started pelting stones. They were falling like projectiles. Just as the mob was passing us by, they started beating us. Sonajharia Minz and Shukla Sawant were beaten on the back. They beat me and I fell down on the road. Around four-five people circled me and they started beating me severely with sticks. We were not the targets, so to speak. It is just that we happened to be there. Sona heard someone say as they were beating me up, ‘Yeh nahin hain.’ It is unbelievable that this happened on a campus that is known for its peaceful atmosphere. But how could a mob of armed men enter the campus? Who let them in? And after all that had happened, who gave them safe passage out of the campus?”

This campus won’t be a playground of fear

-Sonajharia Minz, professor, School of Computer and Systems Sciences


“The stones they threw at us were the size of half a brick. I was hit by a brick. We don’t believe in this method. And this campus won’t be a playground of fear. We want to teach and the students want to learn. We want to restore all these processes that make this a university.”

I was frightened not by the mob but by the JNU administration and the government

-Bikramaditya Kumar Choudhary, assistant professor, Centre for the Study of Regional Development


Bikramaditya Kumar Choudhary, assistant professor, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, says, “My wife had gone for a walk when she was charged by a mob. She was screaming, ‘Bikram, open the door.’ She came in and we locked the door. We heard them bang at every door of the housing complex (for teaching staff). I called the registrar and the security multiple times but there was no response. I kept calling the police but no one came. My wife called the women’s helpline and said, ‘Will you come? I could get raped.’ There has been no response to that call until now. No one has come. No one has asked until now, what happened. At 1 am, I went to the North Gate, the main hub of the security, to give a complaint. They prevaricated and didn’t register a complaint. I went again on Monday morning. But no complaint was again registered. I was frightened not by the mob but by the JNU administration and the government of India. The VC is supposed to protect us, but I still haven’t heard from him. We are, after all, his colleagues.

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This was a systematic assault, planned and executed by the JNU administration and the security. I checked the logbook to see who were the guards of our housing complex on January 5. No one’s name was written there. Was this to ensure that no case could be slapped on the security person for dereliction of duty?”

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