JNU crackdown: Thousands march streets of Delhi

JNU crackdown: Thousands march streets of Delhi

 Thousands of people from colleges, universities and civil society today took out a march here to protest the police action at JNU and demanded immediate release of the varsity's students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is facing sedition charges.

Holding placards bearing incisive messages and shouting slogans like "Long Live JNU", the protesters marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar.

A huge number of them held roses in their hands and raised them in the air in unison at the start of the march and let out a huge defiant cry. Besides students, alumni and faculty of JNU and other universities such as DU, Jamia Milia Islamia and Ambedkar University Delhi, eminent academicians, journalists, theatre and film personalities also participated in the protest.

"JNU has been built with lot of love and lot of care. Our campus allows different voices, and we believe in debating with civility, of accommodating other people's opinion even if we disagree with them.

"And what has been done to Kanhaiya and the way police has been allowed to crack down on our university is completely unacceptable, and we will not take things lying down. We stand in solidarity with Kanhaiya, and demand his immediate release," a JNU student said.

Alleging being subject to "witch-hunting "and "media trail", the concurring voice among the protesters was to "save the JNU" from "right-wing forces imposing their ideologies" on a liberal institution.

Swaraj Abhiyan member Yogendra Yadav, denouncing the crackdown on the varsity campus, alleged that "the Centre wants to make an example of JNU to further their own right-wing agenda in the country."

"JNU has been built with a certain vision and this crackdown was just a pretext to target the entire university. JNU was built with an idea, and that idea was intrinsically linked to the idea of India, of democracy. And, now an attempt is being made by them to destroy that idea," he said.

23-year-old Anila, who graduated from JNU in 2015, said, "The government completely mishandled the issue, and the university too failed to sort out the matter their end, which is how it should have been done."

Asima Mukhtar, 24, a Ramjas College student, who joined the protest along with some of her friends, said, "It doesn't matter we are DU or some other university. We stand by JNU in this tough time and we stand by Kanhaiya, who has been slapped with sedition charges, something using during colonial-era to suppress voices of resistance."

The crowd which began to gather around 2 PM at the Mandi House Circle, also included members from various political youth outfits and student bodies, such as NSUI, AISF, AIYF, some of whom rode in cantors, waving their flags and raising slogans in support of JNU and Kanhaiya.

The members also condemned the attack on the arrested JNUSU president and students and media in Patiala House court complex earlier this week.

And as the massive crowd, which lined one side of the almost entire Barakhamba Road from Mandi House, marched on way to Jantar Mantar, slogans like 'Long Live JNU' and 'Stop media trial of JNU' rent the air.

Among the crowd, students held placards, some of which carried messages and artwork depicting the "spirit of JNU" like -- #DU With JNU, 'Sabse Khatarnak Hota Hai Sapno Ka Mar Jana', Life of a Mind: Shrinks with Consensus, Expands with Dissent', 'From HCU to JNU. Save Democracy' and 'We Debate. We Dissent. We are JNU'.

While a Vajra vehicle was seen stationed at the Mandi House Circle at the start of the protest, some police officials and personnel were monitoring the movement of the crowd, which marched vociferously but peacefully.

Senior journalist P Sainath, theatre and film personality M K Raina, actress Swara Bhaskar, former NSD director Anuradha Kapur, well-known photographer Ram Rahman and a host of other academicians also joined the protest.

Members of few NGOs and various civil society campaigns also expressed their solidarity with the agitating group.

Janhastakshep condemning the attack in Patiala House court premises by lawyers on media and supporters of Kanhaiya alleged, "It is remarkable that the state machinery not only failed to prevent the occurrence of this violence, but seemed to be complicit in it."

As the crowd wended its way to Jantar Mantar, where the protesters later gathered, a student, on the sidelines, was seen carrying a copy of the preface of the Constitution, lending a sense of poignancy to the agitation.

Ruchika, 20, a student of Ambedkar University Delhi, who had come to the protest site along with 50-60 other students from her university, said, "Patriotism and nationalism have been reduced to such small definitions by right-wing forces. And also even if one were to assume that if somebody objects to speeches made by a few people, then the criticism should remain focussed and not taken to gross generalisations."

"You disagree on something, debate with civility. But, if you resort to violence on points of disagreements, we will not tolerate it at all," ex-JNUite Anila said.

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