By YKA Staff:
Kanhaiya Kumar, President of the JNU Students Union was arrested earlier today and sent to police custody for 3 days on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy. This was in connection with an event he helped organise called ‘The Country Without a Post Office’ – an allusion to a collection of poems by Agha Shahid Ali, a Kashmiri poet, who wrote about the strife in his homeland in his poetry. The event also criticised the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, after which a major clash was seen at the campus between members of ABVP and other student groups.
According to a report in Deccan Age, the JNU Students Union have condemned the arrest saying,”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?”
Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the campus earlier today and later tweeted, “If anyone shouts anti India slogan & challenges nation’s sovereignty & integrity while living in India, they will not be tolerated or spared. Whatever has happened in JNU is extremely unfortunate. I have instructed Delhi CP to take strong action against the anti-India elements.” This tweet raises serious questions about the definition of ‘anti-India elements’ and infringement of freedom of speech. As Amnesty India International shared on Facebook, “The right to freedom of expression extends to speech that offends or disturbs.”
According to tweets by ANI, Kanhaiya Kumar said, “This is false. I did not raise any slogan. They don’t have evidence against me.” He also added, “This is an excuse, I defeated ABVP in Student Union elections that is why this is happening.” The JNU Teachers’ Association condemned the arrest as well and said, “This sentiment makes us express strong opposition to attempt to use law and police to suppress democratic dissent and conduct witch-hunt on campus. We always stand for upholding constitution and are opposed to any unconstitutional activity in campus or outside.”
Users on Twitter too are calling the activities on the JNU campus “anti-national” and “pro-terrorist”, with many using harsh language and saying that such activities must be crushed. It is also important to note here that this arrest was made less than 2 weeks after the Delhi Police brutally attacked a group of students demanding justice for Rohith Vemula outside the RSS headquarters. The JNU administration has meanwhile set up a “disciplinary enquiry” to probe into how the event took place and has said it will wait for the report before taking any further action.