NEW DELHI: The Special Investigating Team probe into the January 5 violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University has identified 37 of the 60 members of ‘Unity Against Left’, a WhatsApp group that allegedly mobilised the assailants into attacking students and teachers.
Of the identified, 12 were determined not to be affiliated to any political group. The people that SIT has identified will be asked to record their statements on how and when the group was formed. Like them, the nine students who were named by SIT on Friday will also be summoned for questioning.
Among those spotted in the WhatsApp group, 10 were discovered not to be students of JNU and efforts are being made to trace them. While police pinpointed Manish Jangid, secretary, JNU ABVP, as being a part of the group, the latter claimed that he was added to the group by someone else. He maintained that he realised this only after switching on his phone in the evening.
Questioning of some people yielded the information that the invite to join the group was sent through SMS. However, some of those who joined left within a few hours when violence broke out. However, the cops are likely to go after them to ascertain their roles in the mob attack. When the cops contacted some of the numbers that did not have names associated with them, they were either switched off or unreachable, but the investigators are tryingto track them individually.
Meanwhile, police have asked hostel wardens in JNU to direct the students injured in the January 5 clashes to record their statements. A temporary office of the SIT has been set up on the campus to facilitate this. Police sources said there was a list of 34 students who suffered injuries. They had been instructed to appear before the SIT. While some responded over phone, none has personally gone to police.
The sources explained that the statement of these students would provide crucial information to the investigators since other than mobile phone videos, no other evidence has been recovered, with the security cameras having been non-operational at the time. The police team has already questioned the security guards who were on duty when the mob entered the university as well as the wardens of the hostels where violence took place.
The sources also said that while mobile phone videos of the attack were available, police had not been able to get leads due to the dark lighting and the masks that the attackers wore.
Senior SIT members agreed that the nine suspects named on Friday were only involved in skirmishes during the day, not in the evening attack. The probe on the clashes after dark, including at Sabarmati Hostel, is under way.
The cops will send notices to the nine students named as involved in violence by Special Investigating Team at its press meet on Friday to help the investigators in identify the other people seen with them in CCTV and mobile phone footage that have been recovered.