Delhi

Visually impaired student assaulted, another thrown off balcony

JNU’s Sabarmati Hostel residents recount night of terror when masked goons armed with sticks barged into the campus and beat up students

Surya Prakash (25), a visually impaired research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), was in his ground floor room at Sabarmati Hostel on Sunday around 6.50 p.m. when a mob started knocking at his door shouting abuses.

They first smashed the glass window of his room. The shards hit Mr. Prakash’s head but fortunately his winter cap saved him.

Next, the mob broke open Surya’s door.

He kept shouting that he was blind and that they should be let him go, but to no avail.

“They hit my back with sticks and punched me also. A few minutes later, the mob left saying ‘He is blind… no point in thrashing him’,” Mr. Prakash said, adding that the men reeked of alcohol.

He was given first-aid by his fellow hostellers and then taken to AIIMS Trauma Centre where he was given treatment and later discharged.

His parents, who live in Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria, have been calling him incessantly worried about his safety.

Mr. Prakash said he has also been getting several threat calls. “I am getting so many calls and they are telling me that I should not speak to anyone but I will because I am not scared of them and I will not stop talking,” he said.

Opposite to Mr. Prakash’s room lives Santosh Bhagat, a PhD scholar from West Bengal. Mr. Bhagat said he was thrown off the first-floor balcony. The scholar said he was going for tea when a group of students told him that masked men had entered the hostel and that they should all stay together.

Mr. Bhagat and the other students barricaded themselves in a room on the first floor but the mob — armed with rods and sticks — managed to break inside and vandalised the room. “I was in the balcony when one of them hit me with a stick... then they threw me off the balcony,” he said.

He managed to reach the nearby house of a professor from where he was taken to a hospital. He was discharged and came back to his room around 3 a.m. on Monday. Mr. Bhagat has not told his parents about the incident, “I do not want them to worry”.

‘Most vandalised room’

On the first floor of the hostel was a room that students said was the “most vandalised” during the incident.

The occupant of the room is from Jammu and Kashmir, and is also very active in hostel activities.

The student suspects his identity was the reason for the especially brutal attack. “I was in my room when the mob started breaking the door with a fire extinguisher. While they were doing so, I ran to the balcony and hopped onto my cousin’s room, which is adjacent to mine. The two of us sat against his room’s door and they were unable to break in,” he said.

Inside the student’s room was a broken planter with soil spread all over, his bedsheets had bootprints, and shards of glass were everywhere.

A 25-year-old woman hosteller in the women’s wing of Sabarmati Hostel recalled that she could hear the mob abusing and screaming “Nikalo inko (bring them out)”. The armed men also took a round of the women’s wing. “They did not vandalise our side a lot but we were so scared that we locked ourselves in our rooms and switched off the lights. People were knocking,” she said.

Several injured students came to the women’s wing seeking help.

The woman said that a first-year male student had come to her room and was bleeding from his head. “He kept saying “didi maine to kuch nai kiya (I did not do anything) and he was shivering with fear. He was not even ready to leave the room to go to hospital,” she said.

Students at Sabarmati Hostel alleged that they made several calls to the police and while they answered, they did not come to help. The students further alleged that two male wardens had fled their posts but the two female wardens had stayed.

The residents further alleged that additional security had been requested and that the administration had been “categorically informed” of the worsening situation on campus.

Some rooms untouched

The hostel rooms with ABVP posters were untouched, the glasses of their windows intact. Hostellers alleged that the masked goons passing such rooms said “Ye apna hai, isko chhoro (This is our own, leave it)”.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 7:22:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/visually-impaired-student-assaulted-another-thrown-off-balcony/article30498113.ece

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