On JNU server room vandalism, RTI reply exposes admin’s lie

It said its main server was shut down on Jan 3 and went down next day due to power supply disruption

JNU, clash, violence, students clash, HFG, ABVP, film screening, Shivaji's photograph, Periyar's photograph,
On February 19, Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University witnessed fresh incident of violence when two groups of students clashed with each other near the union office | Representational image

The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has admitted biometric systems and security cameras in its server room were not vandalised in the first week of January, contradicting the university administration’s claim that the students had destroyed them on January 3.

In a reply to a RTI query filed by Saurav Das, a member of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), under “life and liberty” clause, the university said the main server of JNU at the Centre for Information System (CIS) was shut down on January 3 and had gone down the next day “due to power supply disruption”.

The varsity’s reply also stated that “no continuous and entire” CCTV footage of cameras installed at North/Main gate of the JNU campus from 3 pm to 11 pm on January 5 was available, the day when masked men had entered the campus, and attacked students and teachers with iron rods and sledgehammers.

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The JNU administration, in an FIR, had claimed that on January 3, a group of students wearing masks had forcibly entered the CIS and switched off the power supply, making the servers dysfunctional, thereby affecting a range functions, including CCTV surveillance, biometric attendance and internet services.

“The main server of JNU was shut down on January 3 and had gone down the next day due to power supply disruption… None of the CCTV cameras were vandalised from December 30, 2019 to January 8, 2020,” said the varsity, in its response to the RTI.

The response also said a total of 17 fibre optical cables were damaged on January 4 at 1 pm. “None” of the biometric systems were broken or destroyed from December 30, 2019 to January 8, 2020, it said.

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The RTI had also sought information on whether the CIS office contains the servers of the CCTV cameras in and around the campus. To this, the reply stated that the servers of CCTV cameras are located in data centre and not at CIS office. The RTI reply also said “the details of locations of CCTV cameras cannot be provided due to security reasons and concerns”.

Das received the reply to a RTI filed by him on January 9. The RTI also asked details of the total number of times the JNU website was not functioning due to technical snag or problem since December 25, 2019 to January 8, 2020.

The reply stated that the varsity’s website was functioning during this period since it is “critical” and “a logical public face of the university”. “It was running from alternate backup arrangement during this period,” the varsity said in its response.

(With inputs from agencies)