SRINAGAR: Hundreds of students protested at Jawaharlal Nehru University on Saturday, demanding release of a student leader who was arrested on Thursday on charges of sedition following an event on Afzal Guru’s death anniversary where anti-India slogans were reportedly shouted.
His arrest turned into a political controversy after some opposition parties termed the police crackdown as unwarranted.
The arrest of JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar had created fear among Kashmiri students who had participated in the event. On Saturday morning the Delhi police had detained seven students affiliated with Left-wing students’ organizations.
They were released after questioning, Delhi police deputy commissioner (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal told Kashmir Reader on phone.
“None of these students is from Kashmir. Four students were from All India Students’ Association and three from Students’ Federation of India,” Narwal said.
Eight other students have been debarred from academic activities pending a disciplinary inquiry by the university administration.
A massive demonstration was organised by the students at the campus today. They said that from Monday onwards, the students will proceed on an indefinite strike till Kanhaiya is released and charges against other students are dropped.
The issue triggered a war of words between the BJP-led government and some opposition parties.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was shown black flags by protesting students of the BJP student wing ABVP when he visited the campus this evening.
Addressing the protesting students, Rahul said, “People who suppress the voice of this institution are anti-national.”
My son is a nationalist but not a supporter of RSS-BJP’s Hindutva politics. We are proud of his Left ideology. There is nothing wrong in it. He has been fighting against right wing politics and now being targeted for it. I am confident he will win the battle against Hindutva politics
—Kanhaiya’s mother Meena Devi
Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the police action against students was “completely wrong” and the “government was trying to propagate RSS ideology”. A delegation of Left leaders met home minister Rajnath Singh today.
In a statement, CPI(ML) said the “crackdown is nothing but a pre-planned war by the Modi government against campus democracy and the student movement”.
“Just as Rohith Vemula was branded anti-national and subjected to a witch-hunt, JNU student activists are today being subjected to the same political witch-hunt. Campuses like HCU and JNU are being targeted for raising voices of dissent against the government and the Sangh Parivar,” the statement said.
BJP spokesman Anil Balooni said the Left leaders were siding with those “who stand with Pakistan.”
Minister of state for Home Kiren Rijiju said, “These students are not school-children. What they did was well thought out.”
“Rahul Gandhi and his friends are speaking in the voice LeT terrorist Hafiz Sayeed who had tweeted in support of anti-India event in JNU. It is an insult to our martyrs and armed forces who sacrifice their lives on the border and will boost the morale of anti-national forces.JNU has produced many intellectuals and bureaucrats. A handful of people there have given anti-India speeches. Law is taking its course. BJP will urge Congress to not insult our martyrs for political reason,” BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a tweet had said, “No one supports anti-national forces. But targeting innocent students using that as an excuse will prove very costly to Modi government”.