New Delhi, February 12
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on Friday and remanded in police custody for three days on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy for organising an event in the institute protesting the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
"Kanhaiya Kumar has been arrested in connection with the case," a senior police official said.
Two policemen in plain clothes came to the JNU campus on Friday to pick up Kumar for questioning.
He was arrested later, sources said.
Police had booked some unidentified people after BJP MP Maheish Girri and ABVP complained.
‘It’s a witch-hunt’
JNU students’ union condemned Kumar’s arrest and claimed it was a “witch-hunt”.
"The police is mindlessly patrolling the campus and the students are being witch-hunted and demonised for doing nothing. What is the proof that Kanhaiya was there among those raising anti-India slogans? Has he been spotted in any picture or video? Why are all JNU students being given 'anti-national' certificates," JNUSU vice president Shehla Rashid Shora said.
Students gathered outside vice-chancellor's office to demand he intervene.
"Why is the administration not protecting students against this selective targeting by ABVP? Why police have been given such a free hand to rashly pick students from campus? Why were the cops not uniformed? If there has to be an inquiry, why no protocols are being followed," said a member of the All India Students Association (AISA).
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said earlier in the day that he had told the Delhi Police to take the “strongest" action against those involved in the case and said activities will not be tolerated.
"If anyone raises anti-India slogans, tries to raise questions on country's unity and integrity, they will not be spared. Stringent action will be taken against them," he told reporters here.
Some students have been accused of raising anti-India slogans at an event held on the JNU campus on Tuesday against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in 2013.
The administration had cancelled permission for the event after ABVP members objected it for being “anti-national”.
The JNU administration has already begun a disciplinary enquiry over the event and said it would await its report before acting.
Union Human Resource Minister Smriti Irani denounced the protests.
"I only want to say that today is the day of worship of Goddess Saraswati. Saraswati blesses every family that whatever they speak is for progress and strengthening the nation. Let mother India be praised. Nation will never tolerate insult to mother India," she told reporters when asked to comment on the incident at JNU earlier in the day.
In her speech at an event organised by an RSS-linked body working in the field of education earlier in the day, Irani hinted at the protests saying that when she heard 'Vande Mataram' and "prayers to the mother" being recited, she ‘felt satisfied that there are teachers who teach children to pray for the nation and not anti-India slogans".
Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said: "During that day's sloganeering, some objectionable things were said. Those were transgression of the Indian Penal Code, for which we registered an FIR".
‘State of emergency’
CPI-M Sitaram Yechury called the development an “emergency-like” situation, saying: "The question is that do you know who raised the slogans? Take action according to the law. When you don't know then how are you arresting all the student leaders? Male police are raiding girls' hostels. Only during the emergency we saw this happen before. This time it is the BJP”.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal said sedition was a serious charge and that BJP must think before acting.
JNU vice-chancellor Vice Chancellor Jagdeesh Kumar said the university upheld the right to free debate but condemned activities that violated the Indian Constitution and laws of the land.
"While the problem would be appropriately addressed in this case, the university would also take steps to protect the academic atmosphere and the environment for vibrant discussion that JNU has always provided and stands for," he said.
The university restricted entry of outsiders within campus on Friday.
JNU Teachers Association condemned Kumar’s arrest.
"This could be a disciplinary issue but how can it be a case of sedition? The action against the students is uncalled for. The way students are being randomly picked up from the campus is very unfortunate at a university which is widely known for its democratic ethos," said Vikramaditya, Secretary, JNUTA.
ABVP held a protest march at India Gate to demand Kumar’s expulsion. Ninety activists were detained.
CPI Secretary D Raja met the university’s vice-chancellor and registrar to demand that student's interest is protected. — PTI