In solidarity with Dr. Saitya Brata Das

JNUTA is shocked by the brazen and vicious attack and harassment that Dr. Saitya Brata Das of the Centre for English Studies was subjected to on Saturday 14 January by a violent, organised gang of miscreants. Dr. Das’s car, which had stopped at a traffic signal in RK Puram that afternoon, was purposefully hit from behind by a bike, and his car was immediately surrounded by a gang of 6-7 men, shouting and abusing Dr. Das, aggressively demanding money and threatening violence. Dr. Das quickly realized the similarities between this blatant attempt at extortion and the horrific attack on another JNU faculty Dr. Sharad Baviskar in June 2022, and he wasted no time in driving without stopping at JNU campus in order to reach a place of safety. However, the gang followed him to the North Gate and, in the presence of JNU security, surrounded the car trying to get Dr. Das out, kicking it and threatening to burn the car. They abused and attacked the security too, and even tore the jacket of one of the security staff. Dr. Das showed extraordinary courage and presence of mind during this frightening ordeal by not stepping out of his car and drove fast to the security office in the Administrative Building. Thereafter, even though a PCR van arrived and dispersed the gang, no arrests were made. Furthermore, shockingly, the gang allegedly seems to have obtained Dr. Das’s telephone number from JNU security and harassed him with threats to his life and extortion demands for the rest of the night. The phone calls only ceased after Dr. Das filed a police complaint on 14th January 2023, the same day as the unfortunate incident. Dr. Das’s complaint has yet to be turned into an FIR by the Delhi police.

The JNUTA is utterly dismayed at the state of law and order in Delhi and the impunity with such gangs are allowed to operate in Delhi with such impunity. This abysmal state of affairs is mirrored inside JNU by the JNU security, which was unable to prevent the gang from surrounding and threatening Dr Das inside the campus.

The entire JNU community stands in full solidarity with Dr Saitya Brata Das, who has been subjected to this intensely traumatizing experience, and share his anguish and outrage at this vicious and premeditated attack. We are shocked and angry that there have been two similar, life-threatening attacks on JNU faculty in recent months by organised criminal gangs. It is imperative that JNU administration and its security extend full protection and support to its faculty members and puts pressure on the Delhi Police to register an FIR, conduct a thorough investigation and bring such criminal gangs to book.

The weakening of the sense of security and safety on JNU campus over the past few years have been appalling: there have several horrific incidents, including the violent planned attack from outside the campus on 5 January 2020, on which no arrests have been made even after three years! There have been repeated burglaries with little follow up and no apprehension of the perpetrators. JNUTA reiterates its repeated demand for a strong, efficient and accountable security system on the campus and the immediate replacement of the present security company. The JNUTA demands that the university administration at the highest levels extends all support to Dr. Saitya Brata Das, and actively puts pressure on Delhi Police to ensure that action is taken against the criminal gang behind this attack.

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