The Delhi Police on Friday arrested the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, hours after Home Minister Rajnath Singh said strict action should be taken against those who raised “anti-national” slogans on campus. The Delhi Police had earlier registered a case of sedition against unknown persons in connection with organising an event on campus against the hanging of Afzal Guru, who was behind the 2001 parliament attacks. The First Information Report was filed after the Bharatiya Janata Party's MP Maheish Girri and student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad lodged complaints.
Kumar was produced in Patiala House Court on Friday, where he alleged that the Afzal Guru event was just an excuse for ABVP members to complain against him because he defeated them in the student union elections. He added that there was "no evidence" against him and that he did not chant any slogans at the event. Kumar was charged with sedition and sent to police custody for three days.
ABVP members on Friday held protests against the event, even as the university appealed for normalcy. ANI reported that Delhi police detained some protesting ABVP members near India Gate. The event was also condemned by Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani and Communist leader Sitaram Yechury. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday said that taking action against the students will not solve the problem, and asked political parties to come together to a joint solution on the matter. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi condoned the Centre for the arrest and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party and ABVP were bullying an institution for not "toeing their line". Gandhi added that the right to dissent was a part of democracy, ANI reported.
JNU's vice chancellor Jagdeesh Kumar said the university condemned the use of the institute as a platform for activities that violate the law of the land. However, the JNU Teachers' Association condemned the use of "excessive police action" and said it had only aggravated the situation. On Wednesday, the JNU administration ordered a disciplinary inquiry into the event. The university's inquiry committee recommended debarring the students involved in the event during the course of its investigation. The protest was was held even though permission to organise it had been withdrawn. Kumar had told PTI they granted the organisers permission earlier when they were told it was going to be a cultural programme, but decided to cancel it when they found out it was a protest.
On Tuesday, organisers of the programme had put up posters across the campus inviting people to join their protest against the “judicial killing of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt”, and in solidarity with the “struggle of Kashmiri people for their democratic right to self determination”.