Exposed In Letter, JNU Vice Chancellor's Doublespeak On Police Action

JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar has denied that he allowed police free reign on the campus (Press Trust of India photo)

Highlights

  • NDTV accesses letter written by JNU Registrar to a top police official
  • Letter grants permission to police to enter the campus as they deem fit
  • Eyewitnesses in JNU say the police entered hostels without a warrant
New Delhi: Stung by criticism that he allowed the police an unprecedented free run on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus, Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar held a press conference on Monday to put out a strong disclaimer.

But NDTV has accessed a letter that seems to prove the allegation. The letter, written by the University Registrar to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, South District, says the "VC grants to the police force permission to enter JNU campus if need be and as you may deem fit." Dated February 11, the letter has no other riders or stipulations.

The next day, on February 12, a massive contingent of police entered the JNU campus - far more than was necessary, say observers - to investigate the chanting of anti-India slogans at a gathering on February 9 to mark the anniversary of the execution of terrorist Afzal Guru, hanged in 2013.

Representatives of the JNU Teachers' Union claim they have eyewitness accounts of police entering hostels without a warrant to look for students who allegedly participated in the controversial event.

Eventually, the police arrested Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the JNU Student's Union, and charged him with sedition.

The Committee of Deans, one of the highest decision-making bodies of the university, wrote to the Vice Chancellor that it did not endorse this kind of police presence. In a letter accessed by NDTV, CP Chandrasekhar, a member, said this threatened the autonomy of the university. The move, Mr Chandrasekhar wrote, also "amounts to a major change in the policy adopted by successive Vice-Chancellors ever since JNU was established, and against the policy most universities adopt".

The Vice Chancellor, in an interview to NDTV, insisted that he had responded to a police request to enter the campus by granting conditional permission, and that too, for just a day.

But the fierce criticism from senior colleagues apparently forced the Vice Chancellor to retract his move partially. As the police swarmed the campus and hunted for students, the JNU administration wrote to the police that "there is a general apprehension about undue interference by the police authorities" and that they "trust the police will take necessary precautions in discharging their duty."
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