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Opinion

Black Sunday: Questions for Delhi police, JNU VC Review – analysis

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The chaos on the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), designed by a group of masked men on the night of January 5, has shadowy portents for the future. It shows the Delhi police in low light, and the UNJ administration in a state of pathetic ineptitude. It also reflects on the quality of politics that is developed on university campuses for insignificant gains.

For more than three hours, a group of masked men were unleashing violence on campus, terrorizing students and teachers alike, while the security of the UNI and Delhi police, deployed around the administration block, silent spectators remained. Amid charges and chargebacks, the police spokesman, at a press conference, said they responded with alacrity once information about on-campus violence was received. Operating in a politically overburdened environment, following the clash between lawyers and police, and action inside the Jamia campus, Delhi police chiefs have begun to waver even when legitimate intervention is called for.

A series of questions remained unanswered. How did the masked men get into the campus where JNU security orders access control? How did they escape through the front door again in the presence of the Delhi police, where, by a strange coincidence, the street lights were not working?

The debatable point is that when the campus was going through riots over the past five days, and the police were duly informed, what preventive measures were taken? One group in particular wanted to prolong the turmoil against rising fees, and was forcibly prestraining those who wanted to stand for examinations. This group prevented students from doing online enrollments, and even disruptive classes. The situation was clearly getting out of hand, justifying immediate intervention.

The police spokesman said they entered campus after the permit at 7:45 pm, while the FIR clearly says the information was available around 3pm. Did the police need a certificate to enter when a recognizable crime was being committed inside? The same police man entered Jamia looking for evildoers creating trouble in the streets, while in JNU, the majones were right inside, vandalizing property and attacking students.

Perhaps most of the blame can be shared with the Vice-Chancellor (VC) and the administrative officials of the UNV, who simply observed from the bench. If students wanted a dialogue, why didn’t the VC involve them in the negotiations or clearly explain the university’s inability to undo the fee increase? It would then have cleared the way for action against those students who were forcing most peaceful students to continue their studies.

But today’s vCs rarely come down from their exalted academic pedestal to get their hands dirty with the daily routine of administration. They allow things to deviate until they are boiled. As a result, today’s universities are in a state of concern, with countless problems waiting to be resolved. If only the VC, proctor or dean were persistent enough when requesting timely police intervention on that fateful night, the terrible incident could have been avoided.

The Union’s Minister of Education stated that the UNJ is intended to be an educational centre and not a political centre. Unfortunately, in a university where even teachers forge alliances with political parties, it cannot escape being a political cauldron at times like this. In a politically sensitive environment, it is up to vCs to act as advisors and administrators.

The Black Sunday incident will leave a deep mark on the minds of students and the public alike, and cast a long shadow over the role of the police, the UNV administration and political parties.

First, the police have to redeem themselves by bringing all the móns involved in the incident to book. Considering that they can
aligned with political groups, will require tough determination and determination to bring the case to its logical conclusion. The police investigation will put the real facts and the people behind the chaos to the target. In addition, the investigation being conducted by a joint commissioner will reveal the full background of the case. If the Delhi police are now up to the task, fulfilling both functions, without favour or fear, it will provide a clear roadmap for future interventions in these cases.

Second, UNJ students and teachers will need to reflect on the image and future of their institution, as an academic centre of excellence or political learning. No university in India is in the top 100 in the world, a fact to reflect on. Shouldn’t there be more discussions about improving the quality and content of our academic institutions?

And finally, political parties must stop playing low-grade politics on campuses, and stop treating them as hatcheries for their future players. Even the Mahatma had been desperate for the decision to wrap students in the freedom movement.

Yashovardhan Azad is a former IPS officer and Central Information Commissioner

The opinions expressed are personal

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