JNU students' union leader held on sedition charges

JNU students' union leader held on sedition charges

The government on Friday sent out a strong message to critics of the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, with the Delhi Police arresting Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition.

The action followed Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s directive to the Delhi Police to take "strongest possible action" against anti-national activities in the capital, which was followed by HRD Minister Smriti Irani echoing similar views.

Shortly before the Delhi Police picked up the student leader from the university campus, Rajnath Singh told reporters, "If anyone raises anti-India slogans, tries to raise questions on country's unity and integrity, they will not be spared. Stringent action will be taken against them."

Kumar was booked along with others on charges of sedition and hatching conspiracy, three days after a group of students held a protest and shouted anti-government slogans against the hanging of Guru in 2013 though the varsity administration had withdrawn its permission for the event.

Delhi police also registered a separate case against former Delhi university faculty SAR Geelani and others on charges of sedition and conspiracy, taking suo motu cognisance of some video clips showing a group of people hailing Afzal Guru and shouting anti-India slogans at an event in Press Club of India here on Thursday.

Police said Geelani was booked as he was to have been the organiser of the event. Geelani was made one of the accused in the Parliament attack case. He, however, was acquitted in the case later by Delhi High Court in October 2003.

“I only want to say that today is the day of worship of Goddess Saraswati.
 Saraswati blesses every family that whatever they speak is for progress and strengthening the nation. Let mother India be praised. Nation will never tolerate insult to mother India," HRD Minister told reporters on the sidelines of an event when asked for her comments on the arrest of the JNU student.

The Left parties condemned the student leader’s arrest and demanded his immediate release, likening the police action to "situations during Emergency".

In its Facebook post, the CPM accused Modi government of resorting to "totally dictatorial" measures to "crush" Left-backed students' organisations and promote pro-RSS organisations on campuses "as was done" in Hyderabad Central University. "The question is do you know who raised the slogans? Take action against them according to law. When you don't know, how can you arrest all the student leaders? Male police are raiding girls' hostels. Only during the Emergency we saw this happen,” a news agency quoted CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury as saying in Kolkata.

The BJP, however, hailed the Centre for ordering crackdown on “anti-national activities” and questioned Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his “silence”.

Senior Congress leader and former HRD Minister Kapil Sibal questioned the filing of the sedition case against the student. He described the charges levelled against the student as “very serious” and said the BJP government must think before taking action under it.

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