Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar was the “mastermind” behind January 5 campus violence, said a fact-finding committee of the Congress on Sunday (January 12). The panel also sought criminal investigation against him and his immediate removal.
Masked assailant had unleashed terror on the premier university’s campus on January 5, and attacked students and faculty members with iron rods and sledgehammers. JNU Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh suffered serious injuries in her head during the attack. Leftist outfits and the RSS-affiliated ABVP had blamed each other for the violence.
Calling the attack “state-sponsored”, panel member Sushmita Dev recommended that Kumar be dismissed immediately and all appointments in faculty be probed. She also called for an independent inquiry into the incident. The Congress had appointed this four-member fact-finding committee to carry out a detailed inquiry into the JNU violence.
“A criminal investigation must be initiated against the VC, the company that provides security service and members of the faculty who conspired with the attackers to unleash the violence at Sabarmati hostel, Periyar hostel and other places. The security company’s contract must be immediately terminated,” said the Mahila Congress chief.
Calling Kumar the “mastermind” behind the incident, Dev said since his appointment in 2016, he meticulously “infiltrated” the university with people in the faculty who did not merit their positions and promoted only those who would be compliant to him and had their inclination to right-wing ideology.
“He operates through these members of faculty to orchestrate chaos on campus. The crisis on the campus is a culmination of his mis-governance and autocracy. He deliberately imposed his decision on the students and teachers without due process and then refused to engage with the duly elected student and teacher representatives which led to the deadlock,” she added.
“It is clear that the attack on JNU campus was state-sponsored. There is absolutely no doubt about it. The important question is what did the administration and Delhi police do to stop the attack,” Dev said. The other recommendations of the committee included an independent judicial inquiry into the events of January 5 that led to violence on the campus.
“Fix accountability of the Commissioner of Delhi Police and other police officials because of police failure to act on the emergency calls by the students and faculty members and in light of the overwhelming prima facie evidence that they facilitated the criminal elements on campus,” the committee said.
She also demanded a complete rollback of the JNU hostel fee hike. “Immediate rollback of the fee hike as implemented by the university authorities and recognition of JNUSU as an elected body so that proper consultation can take place between the administration and the students on the fee and other issues,” she added.
She said there is every reason to believe that the mob that attacked the students and teachers on campus were from the right-wing factions.
“There is sufficient evidence to show that the people who were attacked on January 5 at Sabarmati hostel and at the Sabarmati-T junction just outside the hostel were people who did not belong to the right-wing politics on campus. The attackers in fact did not touch the students and faculty who were right-wingers at the Sabarmati hostel area,” she added.
“The mob that entered the hostel even targeted people of a certain religion and spared those who were well known ABVP activists… I have no doubt that the violence is pre-planned, pre-mediated, criminal conspiracy,” she told reporters.
“The quality of the investigation is questionable where till now a case for attempt to murder has not been filed despite serious head injuries suffered by students and faculty. As per the students, the forensic team came about 40 hours later to the hostel that was attacked,” she said.
The other members of the fact-finding committee are Hibi Eden, MP and former NSUI president; Syed Naseer Hussain, MP and former president of JNU NSUI; and Amrita Dhawan, a former NSUI president and ex-DUSU president.
(With inputs from agencies)