After a 48-hour standoff, Jawaharlal Nehru University students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya surrendered before Delhi Police late on Tuesday. They were asked by police to join the probe in the sedition case filed over a controversial event organised on the campus on February 9.
Khalid and Bhattacharya surrendered at Vasant Kunj North police station around 11:45 pm. They were immediately taken into custody. Police have already arrested JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar over the incident.
“The students have been taken into custody and will be questioned for their statement. We have strong evidence against them,” said a police officer. They are most likely to be arrested and produced at Patiala House Courts complex on Wednesday morning.
Khalid and Bhattacharya left the campus amidst slogans of ‘Laal Salaam’. Once in the police station, they were immediately shifted to an undisclosed location.
Sources said they were taken to Vasant Vihar police station. The decision to shift them was taken to avoid any protest or violence by students. Teams of Delhi Police, Central Reserve Police Force and Border Security Force have now been removed from outside the campus. According to police, Khalid, a PhD student, conceived the idea of the ‘cultural evening’ at JNU on February 9 to mark the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. For the event, around 80 to 100 students under Khalid’s leadership had gathered near Sabarmati dhaba at JNU.
A sedition case was filed over the event on February 11 and Kanhaiya Kumar was nabbed on February 12.
Earlier on Tuesday, Khalid and Bhattacharya had told the Delhi High Court that they would surrender.
The Delhi High Court was to hear the plea of Khalid and Bhattacharya, who had sought protection during their surrender to police. The court had also refrained from giving any specific direction on granting any interim protection from their arrest. The court had asked both petitioners to secretly give details of the date and place where they planned to surrender.
The students wanted to surrender inside the campus due to which police insisted that the place was not accessible to them.
At this, the judge called Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Prem Nath and the accused’s counsel Trideep Pias to come to her chamber and give reasons for the objection. After nearly 10 minutes of in-chamber discussion, the judge posted the matter for Wednesday for further consideration.
Meanwhile, a plea seeking immediate arrest of the five students was also dismissed by the court.
The plea was filed as a civil writ petition, but when the matter came up for hearing before a bench of Justice Manmohan, the advocate representing the petitioner sought to convert it into a criminal public interest litigation (PIL).
At the outset, the bench said, “You withdraw this plea and file a fresh writ petition. I am not going to change the nomenclature of this petition”.