NEW DELHI: In a bid to calm tempers, the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Vice Chancellor on Tuesday said that the varsity is forming a response committee to probe the incident of mob attack on campus on Sunday, while again insinuating that the students protesting against the hostel fee hike were not only behind destroying servers at the main office last week, but also the violence that left over 30 injured.

The JNU VC M Jagadesh Kumar didn’t commit to visiting any of the injured students and faculty members, saying that the administration is open to meeting anybody.

Kumar said that the JNU administration has submitted a report on the incident to the Human Resource and Development Ministry and has also met Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor over the incident. He added that JNU’s security unit has submitted a report on the violence to the Chief Proctor and the matter has been taken forward by submitting a complaint to the police. Giving assurances that the campus is normalising from the violence, Kumar said that there is adequate security and the deadline of the registration process has been extended.

When asked whether the university will conduct an inquiry into the matter, Kumar said, “The university is looking into it. We are forming a response security committee, which will look into whatever has happened and bring the facts out.”

On being asked whether the committee will look into whether JNU’s security adequately performed its role, he said, “When we form a committee to look into such cases, they will look into all aspects of the incident that has taken place and give their recommendations.”

On whether any lapses by the security will be probed, the VC said, “the campus has its own security. If there is a law and order situation, we don’t rush to the police immediately. We see if our own security can handle it. But if it goes out of hand, when we realise that our security cannot handle it, we then approach the police, because we don’t want innocent people to be injured. On Sunday we did the same thing. As soon as we came to know that there is a possibility of aggressive behaviour among students, we immediately contacted the police. There is a process of giving it in writing also. The police did arrive on campus and with the help of our security guards, we tried to curtail the situation and it was brought under control.”

Kumar didn’t give a pointed answer when asked how the mob of around 100 people entered the campus despite formalities for entry being in place. “We do have security at the main entrance. When a visitor comes, they check with the insider before permitting them. Typically we do that. As far as carrying weapons is concerned, there are different versions over it. The police are investigating it, let it be completed and the facts come to the front,” he said.

He reiterated JNU’s Sunday statement wherein it said that students opposing the winter semester registration process had damaged servers and power supplies at the Communication and Information Services (CIS) last week and hinted that they were also behind the mob violence. “On January 3, a group of students opposing the registration process entered the CIS premises, covering their faces with masks and forcibly evicted the technical staff and made the servers disfunctional. This led to the discontinuation of the registration process on 3rd January…They damaged the power supplies, broke the optical fibres and made the servers dysfunctional again on January 4,” the statement reads.

For Sunday it added, “Around 4.30 pm, a group of students, who are against the registration process moved aggressively from the front of the admin block and reached the hostels…by the time police came, the students who are for the registration were beaten up by a group of agitating students opposing the registration. Some masked miscreants also entered the Periyar hostel rooms and attacked the students with sticks and rods.”

On Monday, Kumar reiterated JNU’s position on the matter. “On January 3 afternoon a group of students wearing masks came to our CIS premises and violently asked our technical staff to come out of the data centre. It was the first time in the university where we have seen protesting students coming with covered faces. If they feel what they are doing is right what was the need to cover their faces…We encourage any form of protest and discussion, but not by preventing others…They damaged the servers, fibre optic cables and power supplies. The intent is clear that thousands are planning to register and few students come and damage the data centre. They want to affect the academic culture of the university,” he said.

However, Kumar didn’t reveal whether the university has identified these students. “When such vandalism takes place, our chief proctor will look into it and if it is a criminal act it will be reported to the police. Both are happening simultaneously,” he said.

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