Student Protests

JNU student union president arrested – even though organisation had condemned 'seditious' slogans

The raids on campus bring back memories of the Emergency, say former deans.

Hours after Home Minister Rajnath Singh condemned the "anti-national" slogans that some people shouted during an event at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University on February 9, the Delhi Police swung into action on Friday. It raided a number of hostels at JNU and arrested Student Union President Kanhaiya Kumar, charging him with sedition.

For the last two days, the Bharatiya Janata Party's student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, as well as sections of the media, have been expressing outrage over the allegedly seditious, anti-India sloganeering at an event at JNU on Tuesday. The Delhi Police on Thursday registered a case of sedition against unknown persons after complaints by the Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament Maheish Girri and the ABVP.

The cultural event, titled "The Country Without a Post Office", had been organised to "stand in solidarity with the struggle of the Kashmiri people for their democratic right to self-determination" and, among other things, to protest "the judicial killing of Afzal Guru", who was hanged in 2013 after being convicted in the attack on Parliament in 2001.

The Facebook page for the event promised an evening of "protest with poets, artists, singers, writers, students, intellectuals, cultural activists". An "art exhibition and a photo exhibition portraying the history of the occupation of Kashmir and the people's struggle against it" was also on the cards.

Slogans shouted

While the event saw representatives from most of JNU’s political outfits attending, it soon turned into a scuffle between those from the ABVP and the Left organisations after the slogans were shouted. Some students present said that the slogans included, "Bharat ke tukde honge hazaar" (India will be broken into a thousand pieces).

But all the outrage against Leftist leaders on the campus misses an important point: The JNU Student Union, as well as a number of Leftist campus outfits, had actually condemned the allegedly divisive slogans chanted at that event.

In a statement issued on Thursday, members of the JNU Students’ Union criticised the sloganeering and claimed that the slogans were shouted by people who were not some outsiders.

“At the outset, we condemn the divisive slogans that were raised by some people on that day,” the JNUSU statement said. “It is important to note that the slogans were not raised by members of Left organisations or JNU students. In fact, when such sloganeering took place, it was the Left-progressive organisations and students, including JNUSU office-bearers who asked the organizers of the programme to ask the people who were raising the slogans to stop slogans that are regressive.”

The university, meanwhile, maintained that it had been misled all through since the organisers had asked for permission for a “cultural programme”.

Committee established

Now, with the FIR and police raid, things have changed. The authorities maintain that though they revoked permission for the event, the decision of the organisers to go ahead with the programme amounted to “indiscipline”. A committee headed by the chief proctor has been established to investigate the matter.

Student organisations, including the All India Students Federation, Students Federation of India and the All India Students’ Association, have been measured in their responses.

A senior leader of the All India Students’ Association, which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist), told on condition of anonymity that his unit had nothing to do with the event and the organisers had not informed him that there would be “separatist sloganeering”.

“We went there to support the programme since it’s our duty but we weren’t comfortable with the kind of slogans being raised there,” the student said. “The police has come to find and arrest these people now but we can’t go support them outright because we will also get arrested.”

Fear is palpable

The fear of facing police action is palpable across student outfits on the campus. In its statement, the Students Federation of India also condemned the slogans and said that the organisation does not support separatism.

“Such irresponsible slogans cannot be accepted at any cost,” the organisation pointed out in a statement. "We are against all kind of separatist tendencies." It added that “fascist” elements from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Samiti were using the incident as the excuse to target the student community. “We can’t allow fascist outfits to use the actions of some of the misguided elements to attack the entire university,” the statement said.

On Friday evening, several former deans of schools at JNU issued a statement expressing shock at the arrest of union president Kanhaiya Kumar. "The only previous occasion when the President of the JNUSU had been arrested was during the Emergency of 1975'-77, and the present situation on the campus brings back memories of the Emergency days," said the statement, signed by KN Panikkar, Utsa Patnaik, Prabhat Patnaik, Zoya Hasan and Mridula Mukherjee, among others. "We urge the Union government to take immediate steps to prevent the intimidation of students and to ensure that the normal functioning of the University is not disrupted in any way."

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.


It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.