The recent arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, president, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) has been widely condemned by several civil society organizations. A statement by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the apex body of several mass organizations:
Delhi Police and its high handedness has once again come to the scrutiny and makes us question if it is acting as a political tool rather than being the enforcer of the law and order situation in the State. The swift move to arrest Kanhaiya Kumar, President JNUSU on charges of Sedition, is highly condemnable. A witch-hunt is going on at Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU) campus and everyone is seen as a suspect at this moment. This must stop immediately.
The facts of the incidents on February 9th are not yet clear but on the trumped charges, media hyperbole and complete polarization of views have created a situation where, one of the top most University of the country is being targeted and maligned. The political dissent of the students with the ruling establishment as evident on several occasions now, #OccupyUGC, #RhoithVemula Suicide and others is being used to criminalise them and term the whole campus as a den of Pakistani sympathisers, terrorists and Naxalites. This is completely malicious and fictitious and will only vitiate the atmosphere.
We need to remember that there is simmering tension and anger across the university campuses across the country, thousands are marching everyday in different campuses bringing to fore the wrongs within the higher education system and the discriminations which prevail there. However, rather than addressing any such issues, be it appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the FTII Chairperson, curtailing of non-NET fellowships, suicides of Dalit and other students, increased interventions from the communal forces in teaching, syllabus or administration etc.
NDA government and HRD Minister have only unleashed state terror on them.
The current actions by the government at JNU can’t be seen in isolation and needs to be seen as part of the larger conspiracy to divert attention and seek political dividends in forthcoming elections and criminalise any political dissent or questioning of the government in the country today.
In the specific incidents of the shouting of the anti-national slogans, let there be an independent and impartial enquiry conducted but it doesn’t behove of a democracy that we unleash police on campus and start a witchhunt in the heart of the capital and criminalise the whole University.
It’s time government took measures to instill confidence in the rule of law and not engage in political vendetta for narrow political gains. NAPM demands immediate release of the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar and let an impartial enquiry be conducted by the University and bring the facts to the light and public domain. Delhi Police must vacate the campus immediately and stop the witch-hunt and withdraw the FIR against unnamed persons. We also urge some of the news channels engaged in complete hyperbole to behave responsibly and not engage in spreading misinformation and further vitiate the atmosphere.
Statement by the All-India Federation for Right to Education (AIFRTE) on the assault on JNU students and arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition:
University students at the behest of the central government with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of Human Resource Development Smrti Irani leading the attack. Shaken by the widespread reaction against events in the central University of Hyderabad and the death of Dalit student leader and research scholar Rohith Vemula, the central government is trying to brazen it out by escalating their attack on other universities and radical students unions in what will be another futile attempt to stop the rising anger and resistance against the fascist tactics of the RSS and the hindutva organizations of the Sangh parivar like the ABVP.
The recently appointed V.C. Jagdesh Kumar allowed the police to enter and comb the JNU hostels for so-called ‘anti-national’ students without even informing the Deans meeting at the University. The Deans of the Schools of Social Sciences, International Studies, Languages and Arts and Aesthetics have stated that the decision to give “blanket permission” to police amounts to a “major change in the policy adopted by successive Vice-Chancellors ever since JNU was established, and against the policy that most universities adopt.” They categorically stated that it is “patently wrong” that they “endorsed this decision” and strongly urged the V.C. to retract his decision.
Plainclothes men picked up and arrested Kanhaiya Kumar President of JNUSU and have taken him into police custody for three days. The JNUSU has condemned arrest and the witch-hunt unleashed on the campus as a blatant attempt by the present regime and its hindutva ideologues to silence their political opposition. Thousands of students and faculty marched through the campus for over an hour to express their anger and firm opposition to these fascist tactics.
The JNUTA has issued a strong statement condemning the police action and stated that the University has its own internal mechanisms for resolving any controversies that may arise within the university community. Meanwhile eight retired Deans of the JNU have issued a statement that this is the first time that a president of JNUSU has been arrested since the Emergency and that the sedition charge against Kanhaiya Kumar “is beyond the bounds of credibility” as he is a member of the All India Students Federation (AISF) and his political principles and positions are well-known.
The police action, has also been condemned by defenders of civil liberties and democratic rights, and termed an “undeclared emergency” by the left parties and other progressive forces.
AIFRTE expresses complete solidarity with the JNU academic community and demands that the JNUSU President be released immediately and all fabricated charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy against him be dropped.
AIFRTE further demands that the police be withdrawn from the campus immediately and all harassment of students, including suspension of eight students without inquiry or evidence, be stopped forthwith if normalcy is to be restored in the University.
AIFRTE further demands that the ruling party and the central government firmly restrain the hindutva organizations of the RSS including the ABVP within constitutional limits and make sure that they learn to respect the autonomy and critical freedom of the academic communities across the country. This is essential for an enabling academic environment to prevail and for the defense of people’s democratic rights and freedoms. The Supreme Court in a recent statement has also recognized that ‘Dissent is critical to Democracy’. The Constitution of India leaves no room for vigilante groups and lynch mobs to create space for police and other agencies to act against the democratic rights of its citizens.