Ground Report: “Except The PM, Everyone Has Spoken On The JNU Issue”

Posted on February 23, 2016

By Abhimanyu Singh for Youth Ki Awaaz:

Demonstrators shout slogans as they hold placards and a t-shirt featuring Kanhaiya Kumar, a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student union leader accused of sedition, during a protest demanding the release of Kumar in New Delhi, India, February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee - RTX27J8T
Image source: REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

The five previously absconding students who have been charged with sedition moved the Delhi High Court for surrender Tuesday, 23rd February. They are likely to move the Patiala House Court as well for grant of anticipatory bail. The bail plea of Kanhaiya Kumar, JNUSU president, currently incarcerated in the Tihar jail, which was scheduled to come up in the Delhi High Court on the same day, has been postponed to Wednesday, February 24th.

Sudhanshu Lal from the AISF said that they were not sure if Kanhaiya’s bail plea would be granted and they were prepared for the long haul.

A senior AISA leader said that they were quite certain that the anticipatory bail plea of the five accused students would be rejected as well. Following the rejection, they plan to move the High Court to get bail along with Kanhaiya.

The AISA leader said that simultaneously, a petition would be moved in the Supreme Court asking for quashing of the provisions of sedition in the law by the JNUTA.

Nivedita Menon, JNU professor who spoke at JNU on 22nd evening also addressed issues related to sedition. She pointed out that the colonial era law had hardly undergone any change in a century and was used against the marginalised and the downtrodden. Her speech was followed by an outburst by a woman who reacted by screaming out that JNU students were “anti-nationals”.

Anant Prakash, one of the five previously absconding students, said to Youth Ki Awaaz that “except the PM, everyone has spoken on the issue. From the Home Minister to IB, to two to three channels on the payrolls, many have targeted us. I did not know that the government considered us so dangerous. Earlier they seemed to think of us as puny activists.”

Lal and the AISA leader both seemed to agree that the government has chewed on more than it could swallow. “However, it is still a matter of their prestige and can’t rule out further retribution,” said the AISA leader.

Lal added that Kanhaiya had been treated decently in prison and his health was fine. “He was given new clothes and he is getting to eat properly. There has been no mistreatment so far. In fact, several officials dealing with his case have been from JNU and have been sympathetic,” the AISF leader said.

Himadri Chatterjee, a PhD scholar from the Centre for Political Studies, said that every marginalised community seemed to be marked “anti-national” by the government. “Acid was thrown on Soni Sori, tribals are displaced, atrocities are committed on Dalits. But for the government they all are anti-nationals,” he said.

A rally has been planned for today, February 23rd, in honour of Rohith Vemula, student of Hyderabad Central University who committed suicide due to alleged caste-based discrimination, where a large number of JNU students are expected to join in. While until last night, these 5 students including Umar, were going to be joining the rally, sources this morning said that fearing a disruption of the rally, they have decided not to do so.

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