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JNU student activists say police in civvies were on campus during violence

Police stand guard inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi late on January 5, 2020.

Police stand guard inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi late on January 5, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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Plain-clothes police personnel were on the JNU campus when students were assaulted by an armed gang, student activists said. Eyewitnesses maintained that they spotted a large collection of armed men with faces covered in handkerchiefs stationed outside the Periyar hostel and policemen in civil dresses were standing nearby when the mob began pelting stones at students.

“Our first response was to run as we were hit on our legs with flying bricks. But after a while we returned to the Periyar main gate, and there we saw a collection of men who were not masked and armed but were stationed there. So we asked them who they were and they responded that they were from Delhi Police," said Sucheta Talukdar, a student councillor of the All India Students Association and a student of the Centre for Historical Studies (CHS).

The narrative goes counter to the reported claim that the police were asked to be stationed at the entry gates of the campus and therefore were not in a position to stop the violence by the armed gang. The students indicate that the police were present on the campus to incite and participate in violence.

“We were agitated and asked why were they just standing and not stopping the gang that still could be heard hollering nearby. But they kept standing there,” said Ms. Talukdar. The role of the police during the night of assault deserves closer scrutiny as some other students said that the police in civil dress were not only mute witness but in fact assaulted students near the North Gate.

“Students identified the persons in plainclothes that they were indeed from Delhi Police and around 7 p.m. of January 5, they assaulted students near the North Gate,” said a PhD student who witnessed the violence near the North Gate, which is the main entrance of the university and near the Periyar and Ganga hostels. Students maintain that it was because of the presence of the plain-clothes policemen that the violence was intense from the side of the gang.

“I was beaten up by police during our anti-fee hike agitation but the presence of cops on the campus was a form of incitement for targeting students,” said Ms. Talukdar.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 11:53:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/jnu-student-activists-say-police-in-civvies-were-on-campus-during-violence/article30525722.ece

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