After the horrific late-night attack on one of India’s premier institutions, Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Delhi High Court has asked WhatsApp and Google to provide information related to that violence.
The mob, allegedly comprised of ABVP, the student group RSS, were using WhatApp to communicate and coordinate during the attack.
JNU Attack: How WhatsApp Was Used To Attack JNU
On the night of 5th January 2020, a large group of masked protesters entered the JNU campus with rods, sticks and other non-lethal weapons.
They were coordinating with each of their members using different WhatsApp groups and asking them to reach specific areas around the university campus.
Leaked screenshots of the groups were posted on Twitter to expose the masked attackers, but notification of any action being taken against them hasn’t been heard from the authorities.
That was until the Delhi High Court, upon observing the plea of JNU professors, ordered Delhi Police to take on remand the mobile phones of those involved in the attack. The court has also asked WhatsApp and Google to preserve the chat history which could be valuable to the investigation.
Both the ABVP and India’s ruling political party, BJP, are part of the RSS. One of the disturbing facts about the BJP is that it has an accused terrorist, Pragya Thakur, as one of its members.
Delhi High court has also asked the police to seize the mobile phones of those involved in the JNU attack at the earliest.
During a recent press conference addressing the attack on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi Police denied any involvement of any outside student.
However, after a recent report, the woman spotted during the attack at JNU’s Sabarmati girls hostel has been identified as Komal Sharma by the police as a student at Delhi University, an institution not linked to the JNU.
Komal Sharma, Akshat Awasthi, and Rohit Shah, who can be seen in the photo below, are absconding, despite being asked to appear in front of the police.
India’s New Data Protection Bill
WhatsApp cannot offer access to the contents of the messages because they are encrypted from end-to-end. Furthermore, WhatsApp automatically deletes more than 30-day old messages from its servers, whether they were delivered or not.
WhatsApp works in accordance with the federal Stored Communications Act, and a court order issued under 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(d) can allow WhatsApp to disclose certain recorded information related to the account not including messages.
It seems too convenient that India’s ruling political party, BJP, is already pushing for an archaic Data Protection Bill, that’ll grant an unprecedented amount of power to the government.
According to some of the new changes made in the Data Protection Bill, the Indian government can access any information of its citizens without their consent in the name of maintaining “sovereignty” and “public interest.”
The Bill would also provide the government with total immunity from it, allowing the politicians to exempt government departments at their wish.
Also, the committee responsible for managing the functioning of the law will be decided by only the Government without any involvement of the judicial branch or any other third party.
The Delhi police is still patiently waiting for Komal Sharma to join the ongoing probe. Meanwhile, she has already reached out to the National Commission for Women (NCW), claiming that she is innocent.
After this claim, Delhi Police now have to submit a status report within seven days to NCW.
This is unfortunate for the police department, which wasted no time in filing an FIR against the JNU Students Union president, whose skull was cracked open by a mob.
A mob that still enjoys protection from religious groups and politicians of the ruling political party.