Former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar on Sunday said had he been in command of the force, he would have sought intelligence and intervened "at any appropriate time" to prevent the situation on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus from deteriorating.
Mr Kumar's remark came amid widespread criticism received by police for its delayed intervention during the January 5 violence in JNU when masked people armed with rods and sticks ran amok on the campus and assaulted students and faculty, and vandalised property, leaving 34 people injured.
"The administration kept seeing the situation and that was wrong. Police could have acted even without VC's request," Mr Kumar told PTI.
"More importantly, the special branch and the local police, which was aware of how things were happening over the last few days, should have foreseen the events and based on its own reports it could have intervened," he said.
Asked what would he have done differently had he been the police commissioner, he said, "I would have pressed my special branch into service and asked it to develop intelligence and at any appropriate time, I would have intervened and prevented the incident from happening and no one could have faulted me for that."
Police were criticised last month too when they had barged into Jamia Millia Islamia to look for ''outsiders'' allegedly involved in violence and arson during the protest against the amended citizenship law outside the varsity.
"In Jamia, they did very well to intervene. (But) they were involved in excesses and that was kind of an overreaction. But it cannot be faulted why they entered.
"The Jamia VC is trying to save face with students and staff (by slamming police). Similarly in JNU, even if VC had not invited police and they had definite information, they could have intervened," he said.
However, he said, in a law and order situation what actually happens is only known to on-ground officers.
"It is easy to analyse based on incomplete information. This is a very peculiar situation - that the police intervened in a proactive way in Jamia and they were damned in JNU because they said they were not called in. So the police is damned in any case," he said.
Calling the perception that police should go in only on the request of the VC "fallacious", he said if a crime has been committed within the premises of a university there is nothing to stop police.
"It is just a matter of protocol and out of courtesy that you seek permission from the VC. If a murderer or terrorist is hiding in a university, you do not need to take anybody's permission," he said.
He also said the "goons who came to JNU belonged to a certain party" and perhaps whatever reservations the police had, it was on account of that.
Left outfits and the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad blamed each other for the JNU violence.
Mr Kumar was the Delhi Police commissioner when the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder had grabbed headlines in 2012. Protests had erupted in the national capital during that time.