There was no direction to launch a physical attack on JNU necessarily.
The stakes are evidently high. The government and the ruling party are trying to create what is veritably the fog of war around Sunday's vicious attack on the jawaharlal Nehru University campus by a platoon of masked men, among whom it seems was also one woman.
This is evidently being done to make it difficult to uncover the truth, which is that the attack at the premier university seems to have been well-planned and well-orchestrated.
Apparently, the exercise played out at three levels — the political; at the level of the police, which in Delhi is directed by the Union home ministry; and three, through the use of some in the media whose job was to knowingly sow confusion through spreading the false narrative of on-campus skirmishing between left and right-wing students being the cause of Sunday’s monstrous trouble.
A rewinding of Sunday’s events enables us to better comprehend what happened. Hours before the storm-troopers went on the rampage, home minister Amit Shah addressed his party’s Delhi state workers at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. He explicitly spoke of JNU, calling it the nest of the “tukde-tukde gang”, the BJP-RSS’s shorthand for an imagined group that seeks to break up the country, and exhorted the faithful to deal firmly with them.
There was no direction to launch a physical attack on JNU necessarily. But when a political leader of Mr Shah’s standing, who presides over the Union home ministry and is seen as only next to the Prime Minister in importance, takes on an institution in this no-holds-barred fashion, the message is that the place should be taught a lesson.
With Delhi’s Assembly elections in the air (it was announced the next day), the home minister’s speech would have galvanised followers — and they went into action without losing time. The police too could not have failed to read the unmistakable signal — that they must remain mute spectators when the far-right goes into action, and if possible smoothen its path.
It was JNU on Sunday. It is possible there may be more occurrences of storm-trooper violence before the Delhi Assembly election on February 8, with a view to polarise opinion. The police took the hint. It seems from news reports and eyewitness accounts that it was present on the campus when the hoodlums entered, their paths not barred by the university’s security. The local security would have taken its cue from the inaction of the police.
Many hours after the mayhem started, the police did a “flag march”, but it didn’t arrest a single violence-wreaking gang member. It will now “investigate”, based on text messages — now flooding the media and the social media — on three separate WhatsApp groups created as in-house communications systems by the attackers and their collaborators, one of whom was JNU’s chief proctor.
Any police, government, or internal JNU investigation can only be a sham when the attackers, the police, and key elements of the administration are on the same page. An independent probe is needed, but one seems highly unlikely for now.