The attack by masked persons on students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi , resulting in injuries to over 30 of them, on the evening of January 5 has sent shock-waves across India and even abroad. People are asking—if such a violent attack can take place in the heart of the capital city, then who except the rulers can be called safe or secure in India?
Some aspects of this attack have alarmed people all over the country as well as friends of India living abroad. This attack took place in one of the most prestigious universities in India. Students including elected representatives were beaten up in a very cruel way and even teachers were not spared. The masked attackers were armed with sticks, iron rods and stones. They damaged not just cars but even ambulances.
The university where this attack took place is in the heart of the capital of India. Embassies and high commissions of many countries are located within a radius of ten kms or so. If such an attack can continue unchecked for several hours in such a place then which place is secure in India?
What is more, this place had seen a lot of tension in recent times and so in normal course the security should have been stepped up , or should have been in a situation of responding very quickly to any disturbance. Despite this the attack according to all evidence remained unchallenged by the police for an extraordinarily long time and the attackers did not seem to have been hampered or deterred or restrained by the possibility of being checked or apprehended by the police and this in one of the most heavily policed parts of the country.
Although an official inquiry has predictably been ordered, there are widespread apprehensions regarding whether the official inquiry will bring out the entire truth about the attackers, how the attack was planned and with whose go-ahead , what were the real forces behind the attack and what was their real motive, why and at whose prompting the police took so long to make their presence felt. Whatever the official response, efforts to find the correct answer to these questions should continue. There was a time when human rights groups used to send teams to very remote parts of the country to find out the truth about serious violations there. It appears now that they will have to do a lot of their work within the capital of the country.
This is a clear indication of the extent to which the conditions have deteriorated in the country in recent times. The academics and professors who worried earlier about the human rights concerns in remote parts affecting the weakest sections have to now worry even more about the attacks on themselves, their colleagues and students.
Two Union Ministers who were earlier students of JNU have expressed their serious concern at this violent attack, but will they take the next step forward to try to ensure that the entire truth about the attack comes out clearly?
This attack is yet another strong reminder to those who believe in democracy and democratic rights, in justice and secularism to stand together united in these difficult times.