New Delhi: Biometric systems and CCTV cameras at the server room were not vandalised in the first week of January, contrary to the claims made by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration that students had destroyed them on January 3, the varsity has said in a RTI reply.
The reply to the RTI filed by Saurav Das, a member of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), under "life and liberty" clause, said the main server of JNU at the Centre for Information System (CIS) was shut down on January 3 and had gone down the next day "due to power supply disruption".
The varsity's reply also stated that "no continuous and entire" CCTV footage of cameras installed at North/Main gate of the JNU campus from 3 p.m to 11 p.m on January 5 was available, the day when masked men had entered the campus, and attacked students and teachers with iron rods and sledgehammers.
The JNU administration, in an FIR, had claimed that on January 3, a group of students wearing masks had forcibly entered the CIS and switched off the power supply, making the servers dysfunctional, thereby affecting a range functions, including CCTV surveillance, biometric attendance and internet services.
"The main server of JNU was shut down on January 3 and had gone down the next day due to power supply disruption".
"None of the CCTV cameras were vandalised from December 30, 2019 to January 8, 2020," the varsity, in its response to the RTI, said.
The response also said a total of 17 fibre optic cables were damaged on January 4 at 1 p.m. Das, who is also the petitioner to National Human Rights Commission in JNU violence case, told NewsClick that the RTI reply refutes the claim of the administration about the damage to the bio-metric systems installed in the campus. He also said that the RTI reply to the question about “the total number of broken/destroyed biometric systems at CIS office” between December 30, 2019 to January 8, 2020 is “none”.
The RTI had also sought information on whether the CIS office contains the servers of the CCTV cameras in and around the campus. To this, the reply stated that the servers of CCTV cameras are located in data centre and not at CIS office.
The RTI reply also said "the details of locations of CCTV cameras cannot be provided due to security reasons and concerns".
Das received the reply to a RTI filed by him on January 9.
The RTI also asked details of the total number of times the JNU website was not functioning due to technical snag or problem since December 25, 2019 to January 8, 2020.
The reply stated that the varsity's website was functioning during this period since it is "critical" and "a logical public face of the university".
"It was running from alternate backup arrangement during this period," the varisty said in its response.
JNU Students’ Union President Aishe Ghosh said that the reply validates their stand that the violence was unleashed after a per pre-planned conspiracy and the switching off of the lights at the Sabarmati Hostel before the attack was not a mere coincidence.
Talking to NewsClick, Ghosh said that the RTI clears the picture in many ways. She said, “The false allegations put forth by the VC are a deliberate attempt to take the attention away from what happened on January 5… There is no video evidence to show how it was the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) that was involved in the actual violence near the School of Biotechnology. The admin is also lying through its teeth on the issue of registration being affected. Registration was voluntarily boycotted since January 1, but even then the ABVP members, who wanted to register, did so on January 5. The RTI punctures all the distortions of the VC and we demand that he resign now.”
Saket Moon, vice president of JNUSU, who is also named in the FIR, said, “The RTI reply does not surprise me. Indeed, it validates our stand. The claims of administration of bio-metric and server room vandalism do not have any ground. The graph provided by the ICT states that the servers were functional on January 4 and were affected by the power outages. Second, the administration has been claiming that it lost all the footage from the CCTV cameras owing to vandalism. But we are now finding out that the footage is stored in an unknown room. Now, it is the administration’s responsibility to hand over the footage, as dictated by Delhi High Court, to ensure an impartial inquiry into the violence. As far as the question of my whereabouts on January 1 is concerned, it is in the public domain that we were meeting the students to campaign against the registration. As per the schedule, I met Student Faculty Committees of different courses.”
Another student, Apeksha Priyadrshi, also has also been named in the FIR, said, “The allegations against all of us are baseless and without evidence. On first January, according to the Union’s call, we were simply campaigning for boycotting registration in the school area. The RTI has clearly revealed how the VC is trying to mislead and misrepresent the narrative to hide his own criminal complicity in the attack by masked goons on 5th. The online portals were open, and no damage to any property was done.”
(With inputs from PTI)
1.pdf jnu RTI Filed By JNU by Newsclick on Scribd