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JNU violence: Crime Branch probe hit three major barriers

New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS) The Delhi Police’s Crime Branch, tasked with getting to the root cause of the rampant violence that swept the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on Sunday, has run into difficulties right from the onset of its probe.

According to top officers in the know of things, the difficulties stem from three main reasons – the first is the JNU administration’s “lackadaisical attitude”, the second is the local police’s “ineptitude”.

Finally, it is the lack of visual evidence due to the disruption of JNU’s entire Internet network in the server control room by a section of students, which has resulted in the Crime Branch getting almost nil CCTV footage.

Disclosing the reasons to IANS, a top police officer who is prominent in the investigation team but did not want to be identified, said the Crime Branch has only been allocated one case by Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, and that is the violence in the campus from the afternoon of January 5.

Another Crime Branch team officer, who has been in the campus for two days, told IANS that the shocking reality was that the scene for Sunday’s clashes was laid two days earlier, on January 3, and the matter was simmering since then.

It was on January 3 when the varsity administration launched the admission process online, against the wishes of the JNU Students Union, which is protesting against the hostel fee hike.

Another senior officer also said that the JNUSU leaders were against the administration’s decision and were searching ways to disrupt it.

On January 3, JNUSU leaders allegedly entered the Internet server room and locked it. A case was subsequently filed by the university administration at the Vasant Kunj North police station on the day itself, but the same day, the administration tried and somehow temporarily restored the network.

However, according to the official, the Vasant Kunj police did not consider this case out of the ordinary and took no special notice. This further emboldened the students who again entered the server room by the back door the next day and “destroyed it entirely”.

According to a Crime Branch official, the current condition of the server room was not good, since it worked sometime only and packed in the rest of the time, and while remedial efforts are on, the situation had most hurt their team as they scramble to gather clues.

The Crime Branch’s priority was to get their hands on CCTV footage from inside the university in the process to ascertain the sequence of events and identify the guilty but since the server room was virtually defunct, CCTVs throughout the campus were not working, and as a result, almost nil CCTV footage has been obtained.

According to an ACP level officer of the Crime Branch, “the traumatised students are scared and unwilling to speak openly. And in the absence of the CCTV footage, our difficulties have only increased”.

–IANS

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