Response to a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed that biometric systems and CCTV cameras at the server room in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) were not vandalised in the first week of January, contrary to the claims made by the varsity administration. The administration had claimed that students had destroyed them on January 3.
In a reply to an RTI filed by Saurav Das, a member of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), under "life and liberty" clause on January 9, the university administration said that the JNU’s main server 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 response also said that a total of 17 fibre optical cables were damaged on January 4 at 1.00 pm. 'None' of the biometric systems were broken or destroyed between December 30, 2019 and January 8, 2020, it added.
The varsity's reply to the RTI also stated that "no continuous and entire" CCTV footage of cameras installed at North/Main gate of the JNU campus from 3.00 pm to 11.00 pm on January 5 was available — the day masked mob had entered the campus, and had attacked students and teachers with iron rods and sledgehammers.
A look at the response of the varsity administration to Das’ query points at several discrepancies in the FIR filed by the university and the statements given by the university administration, including JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, to the media.
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.
According to a News18 report, Kumar had also alleged that the January 5 violence had its origins in the vandalism that had taken place the previous day in the server room. The report also adds that Kumar had claimed that the mob had entered the campus on January 4 itself.
He had also claimed that broken biometric systems affected winter semester registration, the report suggests.
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 the data centre and not at the CIS office.
The response also said that "the details of locations of CCTV cameras cannot be provided due to security reasons and concerns".
The RTI had also asked details of the total number of times the JNU website was not functioning due to technical snag or problem from December 25, 2019 to January 8, 2020.
The reply stated that the varsity's website was functioning during the period since it is "critical" and "a logical public face of the university".(With inputs from PTI)