The release of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar from jail seemed imminent after the announcement by Delhi Police chief BS Bassi that they will not oppose his bail application.
But the row over purported ‘anti-national’ remarks on the JNU campus still divides people on political lines, with the media, especially news channels, creating more confusion than clearing the air.
One channel showed on Wednesday a video that showed Kumar raising “anti-national” slogans.
The next day, some other channels showed how the video was “doctored” to fix Kumar!!
On Thursday, thousands of students from universities and colleges staged protests in Delhi, Patna, Jadavpur, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru seeking the immediate release of Kumar. Several teachers, lawyers, activists and theatre artists joined them.
The ruling BJP affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad too organized protests at several places demanding punishment to Kumar and other “anti-national” elements.
In a Facebook post, Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said a group of people in JNU have taken a ‘despicable vow to break India into pieces’ and declared Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru as their hero. Despite massive condemnation from patriotic citizens, they are still proud of their ‘atrocious act’.
BJP spokesman M J Akbar said the fight is not between the Government and the students, but between the nation and the anti-national forces.
Opposition parties, however, describe the central government’s action on JNU as a ploy to destroy democratic institutions having rich diverse ideologies.
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They have condemned the way Kumar, JNU students and journalists were assaulted on the premises of Patiala House court in New Delhi where Kumar was produced this week.
“The scenes of utter lawlessness playing out on the premises of the court in the heart of the capital are an affront to the democratic ideals of this country. Journalists, students and teachers are being physically assaulted inside and outside the court premises while the police look the other way and the government remains complacent and silent,” a memorandum given to President Pranab Mukherjee by a Congress delegation led by party vice president Rahul Gandhi said.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who also met the President, blamed the Central Government for the violence in the Patiala House. Kejriwal said Delhi Police would not have remained silent during the violence if they were not directed to do so.
To BJP’s discomfiture, party MP Shatrughan Sinha has already demanded the release of “innocent Bihari boy Kanhaiya”. Sinha also praised the progressive and liberal atmosphere in JNU.
Meanwhile, eight top universities in the UK including Oxford, Cambridge, SOAS University of London, University of Nottingham and University of East Anglia on Thursday came out in support of JNU, strongly criticising the police action on its campus as a “direct attack on dissent and debate”.
A joint statement issued by entire centres of teaching and research in South Asia of leading universities said the February 12 police action against students threatened the varsity’s freedom of expression and democratic dissent, which they described as “hallmark of JNU’s history and reputation globally”