New Delhi: Five students, who resurfaced in JNU campus late on Sunday evening, three days after Delhi Police issued lookout notices against them, stood by their stance on Kashmir issue and support for right to self-determination.
The student leaders, including Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, addressed agitating students and showed no qualms in reaffirming their support to Kashmir even at the peril of being dubbed as “anti-national”.
“Our slogan was for the right to self-determination. We don’t agree with, nor did we raise, the other slogans that have been reported. When you’re trying to have a dialogue with the ‘Indian people’, in quotes, such slogans antagonise rather than create dialogue,” Khalid said to a thundering applause of protesting students near the administrative Block of the University.
Battacharya, who is known as Comrade Ban at the campus, was more explicit on his views on Kashmir.
“We were not afraid and are still not afraid today. We raised slogans for aazaadi and against Afzal Guru’s hanging. We don’t subscribe to nor chanted other slogans. We stopped those who raised those slogans,” he said.
“We understand the anger people feel after six decades of living under the jackboots and bayonets of the army,” Bhattacharya said.
“I am saying this because I don’t fear. We’re saying that we live in a democracy and every day some part of democracy dies when we accept that 50 lakh people live under the occupation of 4 lakh troops”, he said referring to heavy militarization of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said that Dr. Ambedkar favoured plebiscite in Kashmir. “B.R. Ambedkar, in his resignation speech from the cabinet, said, “I don’t agree with the occupation of Kashmir’ and that there must be a plebiscite.”
BR Ambedkar had said in his resignation speech in 1951 that Jammu and Ladakh could be retained by India and a plebiscite could be held in the Kashmir valley.
Khalid said he did not make any calls to gulf or Kashmir. “No, I did not make any calls to Kashmir or the Gulf (as was reported by a section of the media)…. I know what my parents and sisters went through. I saw the filthy threats on my sister’s Facebook wall. They would say ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’. It reminded me of how nuns were raped in Kandhamal by goons who said ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’.”
“My name is, of course, Umar Khalid, but I am not a terrorist. I thank all the students and ‘comrades’ among the faculty members who took part in what he referred to as a ‘fight’ by the JNU students,” Khalid said.
Meanwhile, the Indian government said that police will act as per law against five students, being looked for in a sedition case.
“Police will take action as per law,” minister of state for Home Kiren Rijiju told reporters.
Asked about the students, including Umar Khalid, addressing a gathering at JNU after their resurfacing, Rijiju said he was not bothered by their latest act and reminded that the country runs as per law.
“I don’t know who is saying what. We are not bothered, the country runs as per law,” he said.
Police have been looking for all the five students since February 12, the day JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested in the sedition case registered over a controversial event on the campus.
Earlier, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said if the students were innocent, they should produce evidence.
“Police are looking for them, they should join the investigation. If they are innocent, they should produce evidence of their innocence.
“Delhi Police is a law abiding body and we do not indulge in any injustice against anybody. One should also remember that the police come first in the ladder of justice,” he told reporters.
The JNU administration called a meeting of top varsity officials today to discuss the resurfacing of the five students.
Police officials, who have been positioned outside the varsity campus since last night after they got inputs about their presence on campus, said they will talk to the Vice Chancellor after the meeting and ask him to direct the students to surrender.