One year later, the ‘masks’ still help JNU attacker escape law 

On the January 5 anniversary of the attack on JNU, accused roam free, victims, activists deal with consequences


It has been a year since masked right wing goons entered the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus armed with metal rods, bats, and wooden laathis and attacked students and faculty. The news and images that were shared first on social media showed the attack started at 6:30 PM, when masked goons armed with lathis, rods and sledgehammers entered the campus style and first attacked JNUSU representatives. They then entered hostels (girls hostel included) and smashed furniture and beat up students. 

A year has gone by, and none of those who launched the deadly attack have been arrested. Though most people will recall the image of Students Federation of India (SFI) member Aishe Ghosh’s bloodied face after the mob attacked her. The image had gone viral. As did news of how Delhi Police kept waiting outside the campus gate, because they reportedly “did not have permission from the vice-chancellor” to enter campus. 

Eventually the Delhi Police gave itself a clean chit, after its own ‘fact finding committee’ proved that it  was innocent of all charges of negligence that day. As the police ‘did not have permission’ to enter the campus and stop the violence, the 100 masked persons continued their  rampage.. The arson and violence had left 36 students, teachers and staff injured.

According to news reports an FIR was registered under sections of rioting, unlawful assembly, rioting with deadly weapons, and a section of the prevention of damage to property act against unknown persons at the Vasant Kunj North police station. The case was subsequently transferred to the Crime Branch, however no arrest has been made so far. The violence and its aftermath raised the basic question as to why the trained to respond Delhi Police chose to remain outside the campus when it had in fact entered the Jamia Millia Islamia campus just weeks earlier, in December 2019? The Delhi Police have maintained that while they had “entered Jamia to chase down rioters, they couldn’t enter JNU without the assent of the university authorities”.

The masked miscreants at JNU however,  were allegedly Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members. Many mainstream media reports conveniently called it a clash between ABVP and JNU Students Union, but the images from JNU told a completely different story. 



The HT reported that five days after the attack, at a press conference, the police released photographs of nine students, including Ghosh, saying they were involved in violence. However, an unidentified woman who was seen with the attackers in the video was not there in the police list. She was later identified as Komal Sharma — apparently a student of Daulat Ram College in Delhi University. She was allegedly linked to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) but could not be traced for several months. She was eventually called to record her statement, but never arrested. 



According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Siddhardh Yadav, state secretary ABVP (Delhi) had said, “We have an active member named Komal Sharma but she is not the one who was seen in those pictures shared on social media. ABVP has been very clear about this from the beginning. We also want the person who was there among the mob to be identified and questioned.” The police also claimed to have ‘met over 35-40 witnesses, recorded their statement and questioned more than 70 persons, including Sharma’, however zero arrests were made.

In August, three JNU professors who were injured in the January 5 attack had moved the Delhi high court, claiming that the attacks were “premeditated” and “coordinated”, planning for which had been done on various WhatsApp groups reported HT, adding that groups such as  – Friends of RSS and Unity against Left – were used to mobilise the protesters, the professors had said in their petition.

Delhi Police accused Aishe Ghosh of being a part of the mob that attacked “specific rooms” in Periyar hostel. The HT recalled that police even released a blurred video grab of a woman whom they claimed was Ghosh, standing with some masked men and women. However, Ghosh said she “ had gone to check what was happening after I heard that there was something going on in the Periyar hostel. The allegations that I led the mob are baseless. I was looking for the security guard at Periyar Hostel and no one was present, and the guard also was missing.”

According to a report in The Indian Express, Delhi Police spokesperson Dr Eish Singhal has said three FIRs were registered in connection with the violence and investigation is pending. The report added that even though, after much pressure and critique, the JNU administration had also set up a five-member committee to probe the incident, which has been shelved. According to JNU as Registrar Pramod Kumar  it was closed because the police “was already doing its investigation.”

The January 5, 2020 attack on JNU, was not the first, however, it was the biggest in a series of attacks on its students, and teachers who had been actively protesting the unconstitutional  Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019, and the proposed all National Register of Citizens (NRC)  and NPR. Many JNU scholars are now in the list of student protestors who were incarcerated charged with serious offences under laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. They were accused of ‘causing’ the Delhi communal violence of February 2020.



JNU violence: Delhi Police ‘probes’ negligence accusations, gives itself a clean 

Movie on JNU student agitation denied screening by ‘Censor’ Board

2020 List of Honour: 10 Anti-CAA-NPR-NRC protesters vilified in Delhi

A 2020 Report of Victims of Incarceration: Student activists harassed, arrested 

International educational institutions condemn police brutalities in JNU, Jamia, 



Related Articles