New Delhi: Under fire from students and faculty members for not doing enough when they were brutally attacked by a masked mob on campus, Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar on Tuesday urged the students to put the past behind and return to the varsity’s premises.
“Our heart goes out to all the injured students. The incident (violence) is unfortunate,” Kumar said in a brief statement. “I would like to tell students that JNU campus is a secure place. I urge all students to come back to the campus. Let us put the past behind,” the vice chancellor said. After the attack, there has been a demand from several quarters, including the students and faculty members, for his resignation.
Later, interacting with reporters, Kumar said the campus had its own security. “If there is a law-and-order situation, we do not rush to police immediately. We see if our security can handle, but when it goes out of hand, we definitely approach the police because we do not want any innocent people to be injured,” he said.
According to Kumar, the university administration followed the same protocol on Sunday, the day when a masked mob stormed the campus. “When we saw that there is a possibility of aggressive behaviour among students we informed police,” he said. “There is process of giving it in writing. With the help of our security, the situation was contained.” Students and teachers have also alleged that the vice-chancellor had not reached out to the students and teachers after the violence, but Kumar said “appropriate help” was being provided.
“A large number of security guards were also injured. The wardens inquired about students,” he said. “Appropriate help is provided to teachers. Our office is always open and we regularly meet our teachers and students.” The vice chancellor said the students could avail treatment free of cost from the university’s health centre.
Asked about where he was when the incident occurred on Sunday, Kumar replied: “I am on the campus 24×7.” The vice chancellor also shared that the varsity had formed a security team to look into the incident.He also criticised students for allegedly disrupting the servers.
“On the afternoon of January 3, some students came wearing masks and they asked the data centre employees to come out. If they think what they are doing is right, why did they need to wear masks?” he asked.
Kumar said the JNU had been receiving information from several schools that some students prevented the non-protesting students from registering for the semester.
Stressing that the university “encourages any form of protest and discussion”, he said they don’t want the atmosphere at the campus to be spoilt and also urged that the issue should not be politicised.
“We have deployed enough number of security personnel. In case of any incident that might harm the safety of students, the police will help us,” he said.
The vice chancellor said the varsity had submitted a factual report of the matter to the HRD Ministry and the officials also met the Delhi lieutenant governor.
Kumar pointed out that the registration date had been extended and informed that the servers had been restored.
Later, he tweeted: “Today after making JNU communication and information systems functional, the number of students who have paid the fees for winter semester registration rose to 3,552. University will help every JNU student who wants to register.”
More than 35 students and faculty members were injured after a mob of masked young people stormed the campus on Sunday and systematically targeted students in three hostels, unleashing mayhem with sticks, stones and iron rods, hitting inmates and breaking windows, furniture and personal belongings.