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Kanhaiya Kumar. Photo: PTI
Kanhaiya Kumar. Photo: PTI

JNU standoff gets more twisted as lawyers’ role comes under cloud

An exclusive India Today operation has unearthed shocking details about the assault on Kanhaiya Kumar and journalists on 15 February

New Delhi: The standoff at Jawaharlal Nehru University continued as an India Today sting operation revealed the conspiracy of the lawyers who assaulted Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar, students and journalists, when Kumar was presented for hearing at the Patiala House court on 15 and 17 February.

An exclusive India Today operation has unearthed shocking details about the assault on Kumar and journalists on 15 February.

In a sting operation recorded by India Today’s cameras, lawyers in Delhi’s Patiala House court have owned up to the brazen assault. In the video below, they admit gleefully that Kanhaiya was beaten up even when he was in police custody. None of these lawyers have been arrested.

The three lawyers mentioned in the sting operation are Vikram Singh Chauhan, Yashpal Singh and Om Sharma.

Kanhaiya Kumar was attacked twice inside the Patiala Court complex, and scores of students and journalists were thrashed by lawyers, allegedly sympathetic to the BJP. Kanhaiya’s bail plea is being heard by the Delhi high court on Wednesday. Extra security has been ordered by the Supreme Court for the hearing.

The fear of lynching is what kept five students, against whom a lookout notice was issued by the Delhi police, away, they claim. The same fear is behind the five students—Umer Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Anant, Ashutosh Kumar and Rama Naga—considering surrender in front of a court and not before the police.

“They want to surrender as they have a feeling that they should not take on the judiciary. However, surrendering to the police is a different ball game. They believe police didn’t protect Kanhaiya. How will they save them if the same goons attack them?" said a student.

A judge who witnessed the twin assaults at Patiala House Courts complex last week—on JNU teachers, students and journalists on 15 February and JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on 17 February—has written to the seniormost judge of the complex, saying the attackers were all “apparently lawyers" and sought action against them, sources said on Monday. The judge described the hooliganism of lawyers in great detail, saying a large crowd was seen “beating up whosoever was not in lawyers’ uniform". He also mentioned that the attacks were one-sided, the sources said.

The standoff at JNU continues as the police chose to wait and watch instead of storming in and arresting them. Some of the reluctance might stem from the fact that the cops have identified eight outsiders who first began shouting anti-India slogans. “While these five students were present at the meeting, it is not certain whether they actually shouted the slogans," revealed a source.

However, hours after five JNU students surfaced on the campus, Delhi Police chief B.S. Bassi said if the students were innocent, they should produce evidence.

“Police are looking for them, they should join the probe. If they are innocent, they should produce evidence. Delhi Police is a law-abiding body and we do not indulge in any injustice against anyone...," he said Monday.

On the “doctored videos" doing the rounds in the media and authenticity of those which police have probed, Bassi said, “We always verify whatever footage we use in a probe. The footage in our possession have been sent for verification."

The JNU Teachers Association or JNUTA, on its part, kept up the pressure on Monday, demanding that the varsity’s registrar Bhupinder Zutshi be sacked for alleged mishandling of the row at the university over an event against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

The JNU VC Jagadesh Kumar on Monday met a delegation of over 300 teachers, who submitted before him a memorandum detailing their demands. “We have demanded that the registrar should be sacked over mishandling of the row and supporting police crackdown on campus. We have also asked that the VC should approach police requesting dropping of sedition and criminal conspiracy charges against the students," JNUTA president Ajay Patnaik said during a press conference on Monday.

The varsity on Monday granted 7 days’ extension to the high-level committee set up by it to enquire into the controversial event held on varsity campus during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

“The committee today sought some more time from us as it needs to properly examine the evidences. We granted an extension of 7 days," JNU registrar Bhupinder Zutshi told PTI.

The students also found support and discovered new “heroes" in the university’s private security guards. The guards not only prevented the police from entering the campus but also kept miscreants away from the five students wanted by the police in a sedition case. Dressed in blue uniforms, the guards created a human chain soon after the students were back on the campus. Though the guards kept changing every five to six hours, they managed to make the cordon impenetrable.

Questions are now being raised on the role of the JNU vice-chancellor and his mishandling of the situation.

An article in Scroll says the vice-chancellor of JNU, who, less than a month into his job, allowed the police into the campus to arrest a student, could perhaps take a lesson in exercising autonomy from his counterpart at Jadavpur University.

Professor Suranjan Das protected his students—both the peaceful and the disruptive—by not allowing the police to enter the Jadavpur campus. He neither criticised nor condoned the actions of his students, some of whom raised slogans like Afzal mange azaadi, Kashmir mange azaadi, Manipur bhi boli azaadi during a march to show solidarity with their counterparts in JNU. Professor Das told reporters later that it was not “Jadavpur’s tradition to file FIRs against its students."

Compare this to JNU’s M. Jagadesh Kumar, who, by permitting the police to enter the campus in Delhi, essentially gave them a free hand to raid its classrooms, hostels and dhabas in search of “anti-national" students.

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