Millennium Post

The morning after: Shattered glass, distraught mess workers and mortified hostel students

New Delhi: Shattered glass, distraught mess workers and mortified students populated the inside of Sabarmati Hostel in the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Monday morning, as they huddled in small groups to discuss what they referred to as 'last night's trauma'.

Two rooms of Kashmiri students in the hostel along with several other rooms were left vandalised by a group of masked men and women, who allegedly carefully chose their targets as they tore through the entire hostel on Sunday night. A brief round around the Sabarmati Hostel inside the campus showed that hostel rooms and windows were broken in while the rooms of ABVP members were left untouched. One room on the first floor had a sticker of Birds Ambedkar Phule Students' Association and was badly vandalised, while the room next to it, belonging to an ABVP member was left untouched.

Room 156 and 157 both belonged to Kashmiri students studying in the varsity. The broken window of room 157 shows a desk with a half eaten packet of pakodas and a cup of tea left untouched, a thin layer of dust accumulating over it along with a copy of Jawaharlal Nehru's The Discovery of India. The room had been ransacked. The masked mob then allegedly took a fire extinguisher to the door of Room 156 and then broke the door and windows of the room.

The mess workers at Sabarmati Hostel told Millennium Post that around nine of their workers were preparing for Sunday night's dinner service when they suddenly heard the sound of iron rods. The manager of the kitchen, SN Sharma said that around 10-20 people with masks appeared in the kitchen and started threatening them with rods, sticks and even axes. "I have not seen anything like this before," Sharma said.

Around 7:30 pm on Sunday night, the head cook, KK Sasi said that he saw the masked mob appear again in the kitchen –but this time their numbers were larger and included women. "They started pelting stones at us and one could have hit one of our workers," he said, showing the stone that broke one of the mess windows.

Sharma said that by the time the larger mob arrived inside the hostel, he was in his office but Sasi was in the kitchen. Sasi, who has been with JNU since 1979 and is set to retire in a few months, said that the mob went haywire after entering the hostel and started ransacking rooms.

Sharma, pondering over how to run the kitchen from Monday said that his staff had decided to serve only students of the university. "We have decided that we will not serve any outsider from now. No one will be served meals without showing their IDs," he said, adding that most of Sunday's miscreants were outsiders and only some were students.

Another kitchen worker said that he could identify around five to six of the masked miscreants leaving the campus from one of the back gates while the policemen were standing just a few metres away from them. "I can identify them by face. No outsider will get food from now," he said.

Meanwhile, students living in the Sabarmati Hostel started leaving the campus on Monday morning. One French PhD student in JNU said that it was time for him to leave the campus and it was not possible to live with the anxiety that people might just come and beat them up inside the university with impunity.

"On Sunday night, we were so afraid of coming back to the hostel because we could not be sure that the goons had left," he said wishing not to be named. The student from Lucknow said he was going to find a temporary place to stay in Delhi and then decide what to do.

Most of the rooms in the hostel were locked from the outside as they had been vandalised and the students living in these rooms had not returned since the violence. One other PhD student said, "I cannot forget how my friends were shivering out of fear and not returning to the hostel. Only around 430 am did students start slowly coming

back in.

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