They love darkness; they shun the light of knowledge and are adamant that others should not get it either. They are cowards who do only such things as can be done with their faces masked. Bereft of ideas, with only abuse and slogans emanating from their lips, always with iron rod, stone and stick in hand, with eyes inflamed with hate, they entered the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). They beat students and teachers. But the CCTV cameras on the streets there were already switched off.
After everything was over, the masked gang walked out of the campus right under the nose of the police positioned there in guard. This insecurity is becoming the new normal in campuses under the current regime at the Centre. And more than that, it is becoming a metaphor of today's India. The incident once again declares that the country has become a free playing field for gangs of goons led by the uneducated. The unruly assailants who descended on the campus on Sunday night, entered each room of the hostel and thrashed students.
25 persons were hurt and admitted to hospitals. Students Union President Aishe Ghosh and Professor Sucharita Sen were severely hit on the head and badly wounded. Vehicles were smashed and everything in hostels was damaged. It was only after the two hour violence by assailants achieved its mission that the official machinery started moving. Since Delhi police is under the central Minitry of Home Affairs (MHA), the latter asked Delhi police to enquire about the incidents. MHA sought detailed information from the JNU authorities. Delhi police registered cases against several unidentified individuls.
But the questions is: is this an issue that can be fixed by such ritual of routine actions? Colleges across the country in cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Aligarh, Hyderabad and Pune have come out demanding independent probe and exemplary punishment to the guilty. An urgent protest march organised in Oxford University is a reflection of the shock felt abroad. Both the students and faculty of JNU, and observers outside, have alleged that the assailants were from Akhila Bharat Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students' wing of the sangh parivar.
ABVP predicably is denying this. At the same time, there are reports that at least half a dozen of the masked men were identified as ABVP men. Further, there were ABVP men among those who had sent messages in the nature of a prediction by Whatsapp. Students who had conducted strike against hotel fee hike, had been manhandled by ABVP workers on Saturday. And on Sunday, about 50 ABVP people entered Periyar Hostel and indulged in violence. The students there drove them away by throwing stones. It was after this that about 200 masked men arrived on the scene.
As in other similar incidents, the role of police here also is suspect. Only a few days ago, the police had attacked students in Jamia Millia and Aligarh. And now in JNU, the law and order machinery stood still, when the attackers were running rampage. Nobody can enter the university compound without the knowledge of police. What more, when the violence was taking place, police was standing guard outside the with gates closed. Some policemen were not wearing their name badges. Neither the mediapersons, nor the public figures who arrived on the scane when they heard about the incidents, could get in. The police moved only when the assailants had left the scene after reckless violence for two hours.
There had been several incidents earlier also which made one feel that Delhi's police - functioning under the central government - was a gang of criminals. Even the court had pointed this out. Why matters still remain the same is a question answered by earlier incidents. The police get emboldened by the fact that however serious be their violation of law, they would not be punished. For the same reason, any follow-up action at the level of police level or of the Centre is not likely to be just. Masked gangs who are fond of darkness and have made it a habit to slaughter democracy by the use of the rod, do also exist above the police too.