New Delhi: Home minister of India Rajnath Singh said on Sunday the protests at the JNU campus had the backing of Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Saeed.
“I also want to make it clear that the JNU incident has the support of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed. We should also understand this reality that Hafiz Saeed has supported this incident and it is extremely unfortunate,” he told the media here.
Singh further said that his government would not pardon all those who have raised slogans against the nation’s integrity.
“I have given all the necessary directions to officials to punish the offenders and not to harass the innocents,” he added.
When asked to comment on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to varsity, Singh said that nobody should try and take a political mileage out of this unfortunate incident.
“Whatever happened in the JNU is extremely unfortunate. I appeal to every organisation in the country to speak in one voice if they find any anti-national activity taking place in their surroundings,” he added.
However, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, who met Singh yesterday, said he made no reference to any Pakistani involvement during that interaction.
“The Union Home Minister has made a very serious allegation about terrorists ‘backing’ JNU protests. We hope that he has concrete proof,” Yechury tweeted.
“This seems to be a case of shifting goalposts with the sole design of tarnishing JNU,” he added.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Cracking down on students & using #HafizSaeed to justify the crackdown is a new low, even for this NDA government.”
“The Home Minister must go public with the evidence collected that enabled him to level this charge against the #JNU students #HafizSaeed,” Omar said in another tweet.
Singh’s remarks came two days after the Delhi Police posted a screenshot of a tweet by a handle purportedly belonging to Hafiz Saeed, calling for people outside India to support JNU. There is no independent verification of that handle belonging to Saeed.
The Home Minister told the CPI (M), CPI and JD (U) members, who met him yesterday seeking the releasing of JNU Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar, that the court would decide whether further action should be taken against those students arrested.
Earlier in the day, the varsity’s teachers appealed to the public not to “brand” the university as “anti-national”.
The faculty members also claimed that the internal mechanism of the university seems to be completely “subverted” and autonomy of the institution stands “surrendered”.
“Isn’t it unfair to brand the university as anti-national which has stood as an epitome of academics and democratic culture. Why tarnish its image by calling it a home to anti-nationals?
“We have taught here for years, we know what it is to be at JNU. We appeal to the public to look beyond the present controversy and not to associate the “adjective” anti-national with JNU,” said a Social Science professor, who did not wish to be identified.
A professor of the Linguistics department said the “university is doing an inquiry, police is probing the case, the Delhi Government has also ordered a magisterial inquiry.
Why cant’ we wait to see how the situation unfolds? Why brand the university as a ground for terrorists?”
The teachers have also come out in support of the student’s union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is in police custody on sedition charges in connection with the event, saying even if the students have done anything wrong, it is an issue of “indiscipline” and not “sedition”.
Kanhaiya was arrested earlier this week in connection with a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy registered over holding of the event at the varsity during which anti-India slogans were alleged to have been raised.
The event was held despite the JNU administration having cancelled the permission following a complaint by ABVP members, who had termed it “anti-national”.
“University is a place of debate and dissent. Ideas should compete with ideas, force and violence cannot be used to suppress ideas. Arbitrary arrests should stop and our internal mechanism should deal with situations,” said Ayesha Kidwai, another professor at the varsity’s Centre for Linguistics.
The teachers have also called for a solidarity march on campus this evening demanding that Kanhaiya be released and the varsity be left on its own without any police patrolling.