WhatsApp Groups Allegedly Behind JNU Violence Reveal ABVP Identity
Violence broke out at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus in the evening of Sunday, 5 January, as masked men armed with sticks attacked students and teachers and damaged property on the campus, prompting the administration to call in police.
At least 18 people were injured and admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). JNU Students' Union president Aishe Ghosh suffered a head injury.
The Left-controlled JNUSU and the ABVP blamed each other for the violence that continued for nearly two hours.
Catch the live updates of the JNU unrest here.
Meanwhile, a set of viral screenshots on social media showed WhatsApp conversations on groups like ‘Friends of RSS,’ ‘Unity Against Left,’ and ‘Left Terror Down Down.’
Messages such as kaisa raha aaj ka match (How was today's match), kya plan hai (what's the plan), sabarmati ke peeche (behind sabarmati), apna VC hai (VC is ours), maza aa gya (had fun) were circulated on these WhatsApp groups.
How it Started
Around 5:30 pm, messages mentioning the various ways of entering the campus were being circulated in a WhatsApp group by the name of ‘Friends of RSS.’ Around 7:03 pm, texts calling for violence were seen in one of the WhatsApp groups.
The messages read: Tod do salon ko (Beat them), saalo ko hostel mein ghush ke tode (will beat them up inside the hostel), and abhi nahi marenge salo ko to, kab marenge (if we don't beat them up now, when?).
Data Analyst and Campaign Consultant Shivam Shankar Singh, who had earlier handled data analytics for the BJP, told The Quint that the group ‘Friends of RSS’ was initially a “right wing group” and many people started joining the group after former JNUSU President N Sai Balaji shared the screenshot of the WhatsApp group on Twitter.
Balaji shared the screenshots on Sunday as a “proof that it was ABVP and RSS activists” who had planned the attack on JNU.
“The screenshot that Balaji had shared had the link of joining the WhatsApp group. Consequently, many people started joining it. Initially the students who joined, joined to listen and read what was happening, but then people started trolling in the group itself and started changing names of the group.”Shivam Shankar Singh
The name of the group was changed from ‘Left Terror Down Down’ to ‘Sanghi Goons Murdabad’, ‘ABVP Chee Chee’ and others, he added.
“Eventually everyone got thrown out of the group, and the group got dissolved,” Singh added.
Balaji’s Twitter account was blocked for a while since he had shared contact numbers which is against Twitter rules.
Now, in the viral screenshots, there are some entries which show a certain phone number joined the group using the invite link but is not shown actually sending a message.
While The Quint was able to speak to some of these people those who had messaged on the group were either unreachable or their phones were switched off.
‘Joined it By Mistake,’ Claim Group Members
One of the members of the group, who did not reveal his name, said that while he is a JNU student, he joined the group “by mistake.”
“I joined it by mistake and left it immediately. I was never an active member of the group,” he told The Quint.
A JNU alumnus, who was a part of NSUI, said that he joined the group only to get a sense of what was happening and was later removed.
Navneet, who works in a Delhi-based NGO, and is not associated with JNU, told The Quint, "We were told that this is one group that we should join. But when I joined I realised what was happening there. It was the same group that was apparently initially named as Friends of RSS.”
She further informed that a lot of strategising was happening in the group, but when several people started joining the group, people began to say, “Let’s dissolve it.”
‘Infiltrated The Group to Get Info,’ Claims Former Congress Vendor
Between 8:30 pm- 8:40 pm, the conversation was centred around the situation inside campus. While some asked if police had arrived or not, others claimed that “leftists” had joined the group.
The number of Anand Mangnale also featured on one of the screenshots and the message shared by him at 8:35 pm reads, “People in support of JNU are coming to main gate. Whaa kuch karna hai?”
The Quint tried to get in touch with Anand but his phone was switched off.
He had earlier issued a detailed clarification on his Facebook profile saying that he got into the “right wing group to get info.” According to the post, the number was used as a test number a year ago when he was helping the Congress party set up crowdfunding campaigns.
Congress, too, shared a tweet saying that the number belonged to a vendor and “has nothing to do with INC.”
Truecaller, Facebook Profiles Reveal ABVP Identities
Since the numbers that had shared messages on the group were unreachable, The Quint tried searching these numbers on Truecaller.
As per the search, the message “DU ke logo ki entry aap khajan singh swimming side se krwaiye (Make the DU people enter from Khajan Singh swimming side)” was sent by one Vikas Patel’s number.
A Facebook search of the name led us to a post shared by ABVP JNU which showed one Vikas Patel talking about how ABVP has become stronger in School of Languages department of the varsity.
The Quint has not been able to independently verify the identity of Vikas Patel.
Another number that sent a message at 8:41 pm saying, “Bhai iss group m bhi leftist aagye (Brother, leftists have infiltrated this group also),” is of one Onkar Srivastava, revealed a Truecaller search.
The Quint could match Onkar’s photo uploaded on Truecaller to that on his Facebook profile. According to which, he is the state executive committee member at ABVP Delhi.
While The Quint has not been able to independently verify all the numbers that are mentioned in the viral screenshots, it is evident that what started as a pro-RSS group which called for mobilisation at JNU eventually got filled up with people belonging to different political groups and affiliations or no affiliations, and finally got dissolved.
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