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‘Answers Correct and Specific to Questions Asked’: JNU on RTI Row

JNU has said that all FIRs are in-line with incidents that took place on 3 January and do not deviate from facts.

Updated
India
3 min read
Violence broke out at the JNU campus on 5 January.
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After a response to an RTI query exposed discrepancies in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration’s claims regarding vandalism on campus, the varsity on Wednesday, 22 January, sought to clarify, saying that all FIRs and other complaints filed with police are in-line with the incidents that took place on 3 January and do not deviate from facts.

The University said its reply to the RTI was related to the specific location and questions sought by the applicant. It also clarified that the servers were damaged by "a group of miscreants" on 4 January, reported PTI.

“As per the complaint filed by administration, on 3 January 2020 about the incident in Centre for Information System (CIS) Data Centre, JNU has not claimed about damage to servers on that day. The RTI answers are correct and specific to the questions asked,” the varsity said.

The RTI response also clearly states that servers are located at CIS Data Centre and not in CIS office, which seems to be “conspicuously ignored while highlighting the matter in the media,” it said.

"All FIRs and other complaints filed with police are in-line with the actual incidents that took place on 3 January and do not deviate from actual facts," it said.

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How Did the RTI Query Expose Ambiguities?

Earlier, while the administration had claimed that the vandalism by students damaged the biometric systems and CCTV cameras on campus, the reply from university’s Communications and Information Services (CIS) to the RTI query sought to expose several ambiguities.

The plea was filed by Saurav Das, a member of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, on 9 January.

The FIR registered by the Delhi police on 5 January on the complaint of JNU administration states that a group of students entered the CIS office around 1 pm on 4 January, by breaking a glass door. The FIR demanded action against several students, including JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh regarding the incident.

Another FIR filed on 5 January, alleged that the students vandalised the biometric attendance and CCTV surveillance system on 3 January.

However, the CIS response to Das’s RTI plea shows there was no broken or destroyed biometric systems at CIS office from 20 December 2019 to 8 January 2020, The Hindu had reported.

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Meanwhile, VC Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar had claimed that biometric system was broken. Kumar had also claimed that the 5 January violence was a fallout of what happened the previous day.

The CIS also refused to give details of the location of CCTV cameras citing “security reasons” and said no CCTV cameras were vandalised.

There is also no continuous CCTV footage available from JNU's main gate for the afternoon and night of 5 January, when the violence took place on the campus, according to the RTI response.

“No CCTV camera footages are uploaded continuously to the JNU Cloud Computing Platform,” it added.

The ambiguity was also in the location of the servers where CCTV camera footage is stored.

According to the RTI response, the JNU website continued to function during this period with alternate backup arrangement. However, it is unclear whether there was any alternative backup for CCTV cameras.

The discrepancy could also be found in the date of occurrence of vandalism. While one of the FIRs stated that the vandalism occurred on 1 January, the CIS response to the RTI said there were only two incidents when JNU’s main server was shut down – 3 January and on 4 January – due to “power supply disruption”.

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What Has the JNU Administration Subsequently Said?

On Wednesday, 22 January, the JNU administration reiterated that a group of masked students came to CIS Data Centre premises on 3 January and forcibly evicted the technical staff, switched off the power supply, locked the premises and squatted in front of the main entrance to the CIS Data Centre without providing any access to the centre.

Before evicting the technical staff out of CIS Data Centre, the masked students forced the technical staff to shutdown the systems, it said.

"This led to the discontinuation of the winter semester registration affecting thousands of students of the university. When CIS technical staff got an access to CIS Data Centre on the morning of 4 January with the help of security, it took more than four hours to restore the entire system of CIS," it said.

Damage to the CIS Data Centre server room was caused on 4 January by "a group of miscreants" who broke open one of the door-windows of the CIS premises and entered the server room, it said.

Once inside, they turned off the servers and severely damaged the fibre optic cables, power supplies, broke the biometric systems inside the room, it added.

"The miscreants then started sloganeering and intimidated the technical staff from entering the server room," the varsity said.

(With inputs from PTI and The Hindu.)

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