Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on Wednesday told the Patiala House Court that he believed in India's constitution. He also said that he did not support any anti-national activities. The Supreme Court asked for an adjournment of the hearing after Kumar was beaten up by lawyers while he was being escorted into the court. Kumar will be in judicial custody till March 2.
Journalists were also assaulted for the second time in three days at the court complex, even after the Supreme Court asked Delhi Police to ensure adequate security arrangements at the court complex. The additional security was ordered after several members of the media, students and JNU faculty were assaulted by lawyers during Kumar's previous hearing on Monday, while the police reportedly did nothing.
The Centre and Delhi Police have come under massive criticism from politicians, intellectuals, students and others for charging Kumar with sedition after he allegedly shouted anti-national slogans at an event protesting the hanging of Parliament attacks convict Afzal Guru.
Here is how the day unfolded:
9 pm: Three members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad have reportedly resigned from the Bharatiya Janata Party's student because of a "difference of opinion" regarding the Jawaharlal Nehru University row and the Rohith Vemula suicide. In a letter that has been posted online, the former ABVP members said that the way the Centre is tackling the controversies is "unjustifiable". They criticised the way teachers of the JNU were treated by the authorities and the attacks on journalists and Kanhaiya Kumar by lawyers in the court complex. "...we think there is a difference between interrogation and crushing ideology and branding entire Left as anti-national [sic]," they said.
8.40 pm: The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Centre, the Delhi government, the Delhi Police and authorities of the Jawaharlal Nehru University over police action on the university campus following a row over an event against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, reported PTI.
8 pm: Finance minister Arun Jaitley has condemned the attack on journalists at the Patiala House Court on Wednesday. Jaitley tweeted:
7.30 pm: Kanhaiya Kumar has been taken to Tihar Jail by the Delhi Police, after he was confined to a Patiala House Court room for three hours, reported PTI. The police had planned to escort him from the court to the jail before 4 pm, but around 150 lawyers reportedly stayed put near the court room, waiting for him. Kumar was earlier attacked by a group of lawyers while he was being taken to the court for his hearing.
6.50 pm: ANI has reported that Kanhaiya Kumar is still being kept inside the Patiala House Court for security reasons. The police are waiting for suitable conditions to take him away, the report said.
5.55 pm: The Janata Dal (United) has reiterated its support of Kanhaiya Kumar. Senior party leader Neeraj Kumar visited the student leader's home in Bihar's Begusarai district and said there was a conspiracy behind his arrest, reported PTI. He also said that Kanhaiya Kumar's arrest will prove to be the undoing of the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre. The JD(U) leader's comments came after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had also defended Kanhaiya.
5.35 pm: A day after former Delhi University lecturer SAR Gilani was arrested for sedition, the Delhi Police has said that a few others involved in the same case are likely to be apprehended soon, reported PTI. Gilani was arrested under charges of sedition, criminal conspiracy and being part of an unlawful assembly in connection with an event organised at the Press Club of India on February 10, in which a group had allegedly raised anti-India slogans.
5.25 pm: Human rights NGO Amnesty has released a statement in support of Kanhaiya Kumar. It said that the Delhi police must immediately release Kumar and former Delhi University lecturer SAR Geelani, and drop sedition charges against them. "The police must also investigate multiple attacks by lawyers against journalists and others at a Delhi court," Amnesty International India said.
“From arresting a student under a colonial-era law to failing to prevent attacks inside courts, the Delhi police has shown a casual disregard for constitutionally guaranteed rights in recent days," said Tara Rao, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India. “This apparent disdain for the right to freedom of expression is both misguided and dangerous,” she added.
5.20 pm: Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi has said that they will not object if Kanhaiya Kumar is granted bail in the case. He also appeared to justify the police not doing anything to stop the scuffle outside the Patiala House Court premises involving lawyers, saying that the use of force in the court would have been counter-productive. "We followed norms of prudent policing," he added.
4.50 pm: The Supreme Court has asked for a report on Wednesday's violence at Patiala House Court, and will take up the matter on Thursday.
4.45 pm: Kanhaiya Kumar has released a letter of appeal in which he said he believed in India's Constitution and did not support any anti-national activities. In the statement, which was submitted to the Delhi Police, Kumar said he opposed the anti-national slogans that were raised at the JNU campus and that he condemned the protests that took place against Afzal Guru's hanging on February 9.
According to PTI, Kanhaiya told the court, "I am an Indian. I have full faith in the Constitution as well as the judiciary of the country... Send me to jail if there is evidence against me. If not there should be no media trial against me."
4.30 pm: The Supreme Court has ordered Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi to submit a report on police inaction at Patiala House Court on Thursday.
4.25 pm: The Indian Express said Bassi summoned Bharatiya Janata Party legislator OP Sharma and lawyer Vikram Singh Chauhan, who was accused of assaulting journalists outside the court.
4.15 pm: The lawyers committee sent to review the situation at Patiala House Court told the apex court that JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar was assaulted by lawyers and that police did not do an adequate job of protecting him. However, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said he did not think the situation had gotten out of hand, or that Kumar was beaten. Bassi also said he was informed that Kumar made a statement in the form of an appeal before he left for court, and expressed his confidence in the Constitution of India.
4 pm: Kanhaiya Kumar's judicial custody extended till March 2. He will be lodged in Tihar jail. The jail superintedent was instructed to ensure Kumar's safety.
3.30 pm: The Supreme Court asked magistrate to adjourn Kanhaiya Kumar's hearing and evacuate the court room.
3.15 pm: Police detained National Students Union of India members who were protesting at Raina Road.
3.05 pm: Kanhaiya Kumar was beaten up by agitating lawyers when he arrived at Patiala House Court for his hearing.
3 pm: Supreme Court dispatched a team of lawyers including Kapil Sibal under police protection, to assess the situation at Patiala House Court.
2.55 pm: The Supreme Court asked the Delhi Police to detain anyone resorting to violence at Patiala House Court, irrespective of their profession, reported PTI. The court also said it may appoint a local commissioner to take stock of the security situation.
2.30 pm: At a Cabinet briefing by ministers, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said JNU is a premier and respected institution and that it has a constructive alternative voice that the country is eager to hear.
2.15 pm: The Supreme Court deferred the hearing on Kanhaiya Kumar's sedition charges. It will hear the case again on February 22.
2 pm: The Allahabad High Court will hear a plea filed against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for supporting JNU students protests.
1.50 pm: Additional security deployed at Patiala House Court.
1.40 pm: Journalists were reportedly attacked again outside Patiala House Court. Firstpost's Tarique Anwar said he was assaulted when he tried to take pictures outside the court, though lawyers protesting outside denied the reports.
1.35 pm: A panel of judges headed by Patiala House court's District Judge reviewed the security situation at the court before Kanhaiya Kumar's hearing.
1.30 pm: Lawyers protest outside Patiala House Court.
1.15 pm: A plea was filed against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's support for JNU students at the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court.
1.10 pm: The National Human Rights Commission has sent a notice to the Home Secretary, Chief Secretary and Delhi Police Commissioner on reports of people assaulted at Patiala House court on Monday.
1 pm: Vice chancellor of Jadavpur University Suranjan Das said the institution would not support any anti-national activities, and that if he received a report on the protests held there, he would act autonomously and according to procedure, without the police's help. Das also said the university was a place for people of all ideologies to coexist, and that the entire student body could not be condemned for the protests. He added that the students' union had dissociated itself from the fringe elements who held the protest.
12.40 pm: Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said according to their investigation, outsiders were also involved in the protests condemning Afzal Guru's hanging, besides JNU students. He also said there was adequate evidence for Kanhaiya Kumar's arrest, and that based on the evidence police will take action. Bassi added that JNU authorities have been cooperative in the investigation.
12.15 pm: Union minister Venkaiah Naidu told ANI that the BJP did not say JNU is anti-national, but that people are criticising anti-national activities held there.
12 pm: Afzal Guru's brother Aijaz Ahmad Guru, spoke to Rising Kashmir and said Indian youth have realised his brother's sacrifices and are now raising their voices in favour of Kashmir's freedom struggle. He said the protests at JNU were a sign of the solidarity the youth is showing for Afzal Guru and Kashmiris.
11.40 am: The Supreme Court said only the lawyer presenting Kanhaiya Kumar's case will be allowed into the courtroom at Patiala House court later in the day. Meanwhile Delhi Police assured the court that adequate security arrangements were made for the upcoming hearing.
11.30 am: Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said anti-India sloganeering at Jadavpur University will be investigated. On Tuesday, students of the university protested against Kanhaiya Kumar's arrest, and to make their point, chanted pro-Afzal Guru and Ishrat Jahan slogans.
11.15 am: The BJP is planning a Jan Swabhiman Abhiyan campaign between February 18 and 20 to promote nationalism in different parts of the country. Hindustan Times reported that the campaign will be held in light of the current threat the country faces from separatist elements and political conspiracies. This is the first time the party will undertake a mass contact programme that is not aimed at promoting the Centre's development initiatives.
11 am: Delhi police reportedly conducted raids in different states, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, to track down students who chanted anti-India slogans.
10.30 am: The Supreme Court will hear a plea filed by a Jawaharlal Nehru University alumnus against the assault in the Patiala House Court. The plea also sought directives from the court to ensure the safety of JNU students' union leader Kanhaiya Kumar. Kumar said that in his speech, he had criticised the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and its policies.
10.15 am: Security was increased at Patiala House court where Kanhaiya Kumar will have his next hearing later in the day.
9 am: In a statement, some of the most eminent professors and intellectuals from around the world expressed their solidarity with JNU students and slammed the "nature of authoritarian menace" prevailing because of the current government. The names include Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, and filmmaker Mira Nair among others.
8 am: Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha on Wednesday came out in support of the JNU students' union leader. "(I) have heard transcript (sic) of speech of Kanhaiya, our Bihar boy president of JNUSU. He has said nothing anti-national or against Constitution," the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said on Twitter.
What happened on Tuesday:
Playing down the violence in the court house, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju asked CNN-IBN, "There was a scuffle but was there a murder?" On the same day, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the Bharatiya Janata Party government was ready to discuss "all issues" during the upcoming Budget session of Parliament, reported The Indian Express. He added that "The government is very firm and BJP is very clear that we cannot allow any anti-national acts by anyone."
The home ministry had also ordered a major reshuffle and transferred Delhi's anti-corruption branch chief MK Meena, apart from DCP (south) Prem Nath, who was handling the JNU sedition case, along with 23 other IPS officers, reported the Times of India. Prem Nath was also heading the Sunanda Pushkar murder investigation.
Journalists had demanded the licences of lawyers involved in the attack be cancelled. A delegation of journalists also met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and complained about the role of the Delhi police, who were silent spectators to the assault. The journalists demanded strict action against erring officers and said the Police Commissioner BS Bassi should be sacked immediately. The Press Council of India also sought a report on the incident.