JNU row: Students, journalists thrashed at Delhi court
The police custody of Jawaharlal Nehru Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was extended by two days.
On an eventful day in and around the Patiala House Court in Delhi, the police custody of Jawaharlal Nehru Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was extended by two days. At least six people, including students and mediapersons, were thrashed by a group of men wearing lawyers' robes within and outside the court during the hearing, reported PTI. Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party MLA OP Sharma also joined a group of men in beating up a Communist Party of India activist, Ameeque Jamai.
Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi met Home Minister Rajnath Singh, before saying that Kanhaiya had raised anti-national slogans during a protest on the JNU campus last week. Bassi, however, admitted that the police have so far found no evidence linking the Lashkar-e-Taiba to the incident. Singh had on Sunday claimed that the event at JNU to protest the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was supported by LeT founder Hafiz Saeed.
The political slugfest over the JNU row also spiked, with Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah accusing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi of backing "anti-nationals". The Congress leader hit back at Shah, saying the BJP was promoting a "divide and hatred" agenda in the country. The protesting JNU students stepped up their agitation by boycotting classes and demanded the unconditional release of Kumar. The JNU teachers' association also rallied behind the protesting students.
Here is how the day unfolded:
7.30 pm: The Bar Council of India condemned the attack on journalists in the Patiala House Court. It also said a former High Court judge will investigate the incident, reported ANI.
5.50 pm: The Patiala House Court extended the police custody of Kanhaiya Kumar by two days.
5 pm: BJP president Amit Shah said the party condemned anti-national behaviour, and said pro-Afzal Guru slogans were chanted despite the fact that he was convicted by the Supreme Court for the attack on the Parliament. Shah also hit out at the Congress and said if the party believes anti-national behaviour should not be supported, then they need to apologise to the nation themselves.
4.35 pm: The Delhi High Court postponed the hearing on a plea asking for a National Investigation Agency inquiry into the sedition charges against Kanhaiya Kumar.
4.15 pm: In a new video, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed has said that he did not tweet in support of JNU students protests and said the tweet was fake. The tweet became a point of controversy, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh saying it was proof of terrorist support for "anti-national" JNU students' activities.
3:50 pm: BJP MLA OP Sharma assaulted a member of the Communist Party of India outside the Patiala House Court.
3 pm: Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Sadhvi Prachi visited the JNU campus, and reportedly asked why Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and terrorist Hafiz Saeed were supporting the students' protests.
2.45 pm: Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said there is "strong evidence" against JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar presence at a pro-Afzal Guru event held at JNU, and that police is monitoring seditious social media content. Bassi also said there is "no doubt" of a tweet allegedly made by terrorist Hafiz Saeed asking for support for protesting JNU students. He said Saeed either did it himself or used a proxy.
2.40 pm: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said nobody condoned the protests at JNU, but asked the Centre for proof of who was chanting anti-national slogans. He also asked the government not to make "baseless allegations" against students.
2.30 pm: A person claiming to be a lawyer allegedly slapped a student of the university, while lawyers assaulted several reporters and mediapersons, according to reports. Police cleared the courtroom of a huge number of students and mediapersons, and additional security has been brought in to remove faculty from the premises.
2 pm: Security heightened at Patiala House Court in Delhi where Kanhaiya Kumar will be produced after his three-day police custody ends.
1.15 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, in a blog post, says Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi does not know the difference between anti-national and national interest. Shah added that the Emergency under former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the party's demonstration of their committment to democracy, and that the statements made by him and JNU students show there is no place for national interest in their thoughts,
12.30 pm: Students and teachers at the university went on strike for one day, demanding Kumar's release. Vice chancellor M Jagadeesh Kumar appealed for peace, and asked the focus to return to academics as protests continued.
11 am: Delhi Police has heightened security outside the Communist Party of India (Marxist) office in the capital after it received threat calls late on Sunday night following protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University, reported CNN-IBN. The caller, who said he was an Aam Aadmi Balveer Sena member, abused party general secretary Sitaram Yechury for supporting the JNU students' protests against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. He added that Yechury should leave the country. The CPI-M leader was critical of the government's crackdown on the protesting students.
The furore over the students' protests shows no signs of stopping, with academics and activists rallying to support the dissenters. On Sunday, after a press conference of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association, thousands of teachers and students formed a two-kilometre-long human chain at the university, reported The Indian Express. Many civil society activists including Harsh Mander and Teesta Setalvad participated in the protest which saw protesters holding posters saying “Killers of Rohith, don’t teach us nationalism”.
On the same day, teachers from 40 Central Universities criticised Kumar's arrest in a sedition case, reported PTI. Film and Television Institute of India students also expressed solidarity with the agitators and accused the government of harassing and threatening those who dare to dissent. A faculty member of Ambedkar University said, "Today it is JNU, tomorrow it could be any other university. Any voice of dissent being branded as anti-national is dangerous for any educational institution or community at large."