Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking bail. Former Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee will present the application in the apex court on Friday. The move came a day after Kumar was remanded in judicial custody till March 2 by a Delhi court, amid reports that the court was told that the Delhi Police are under pressure to not oppose his bail.
Kumar was arrested last Friday after being charged with sedition. The police believe he shouted anti-national slogans during a protest at the JNU campus last week, against the hanging of Parliament attacks convict Afzal Guru. The Centre and the Delhi Police have been heavily criticised for charging Kumar with sedition, with the outrage growing after members of the media were attacked outside the Patiala House Court by lawyers twice this week during the student leader's hearing.
In the evening, the Human Resource Development Ministry sent out a notification asking all central universities to put up a 207-ft-high Indian flag on their campuses. Soon after, BJP MLA OP Sharma, who was among those involved in the attacks outside the Patiala House Court, was arrested and later let out on bail.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had sent a team of senior lawyers to assess the security situation and incidents of assault at the Patiala House Court complex. The panel submitted their report, along with mobile phone footage of the scene at Patiala House Court, at 3 pm on Thursday.
Here is the latest:
8.55 pm: Delhi Police has sought help from its Special Cell to locate Umar Khalid, the student who allegedly organised the protest against Afzal Guru's hanging at the Jawaharlal Nehru University on February 9.
8.35 pm: Delhi ABVP's joint secretary claims that slogans similar to the ones used in this protest have been raised in JNU for the past three or four years, but no action was taken when they complained, NDTV reported.
7.45 pm: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has said that the police's attack on the JNU students had the "tacit support" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress leader claimed that the BJP was trying to impose RSS' ideology on the country's educational institutes. "Look at JNU, Hyderabad University, FTII-Pune incidents and the imposition of RSS members in our Dibrugarh University managing committee... [HRD Minister] Smriti Irani is listening to the RSS only," Gogoi said. Insisting that Kanhaiya Kumar had not said anything anti-national in his speech, Gogoi added, "If the students had violated the law, then arrest them. The government cannot take the law into its hands."
7.23 pm: OP Sharma says he has been harassed for protesting against anti-nationals, India Today reported. ANI quoted him as saying: "In the country, people who stop others from screaming "Pakistan Zindabad", if they have to go through this, it is shameful."
7.10 pm: NDTV is reporting that BJP MLA OP Sharma, who was involved in the assault on students and journalists outside the Patiala House Court has been arrested, but is out on bail.
6.40 pm: BJP's West Bengal spokesperson Krishanu Mitra has filed a PIL in the Calcutta High Court seeking an National Investigation Agency probe into the allegedly anti-national slogans that they believe were raised at Jadavpur University. According to PTI, Mitra claimed in his petition that the state police had not taken any action or initiated any investigation against the students.
6.33 pm: Kanhaiya Kumar's lawyer has said that the Delhi Police Chief is wrong, and that nothing in the student leader's speak speech remotely resembles sedition.
5.33 pm: The HRD ministry has announced that a massive Indian flag will be put up at all Indian Universities. According to an Economic Times reporter, the flags will have to be 207 ft high and will weigh 125 kg, and the first such flag is to be installed at JNU. If this materialises, it will be more than twice the size of the current largest Indian flag.
5.15 pm: Agitations in support of Kanhaiya Kumar continued in Delhi as protestors marched towards Jantar Mantar.
5 pm: There were simultaneous protests by pro-JNU groups, the ABVP and Congress outside Jadavpur University on Thursday. Groups were kept in check by Kolkata police.
4.45 pm: Geelani also filed a bail appliation, which will be heard at a Delhi court on Friday.
4.20 pm: Ex-Delhi University professor SAR Geelani, who was arrested on charges of sedition, was not taken for his hearing at Patiala House Court because of security concerns. Geelani was sent to judicial custody for two weeks after he was produced at Chanakyapuri police station in Delhi. He will be held at Tihar jail.
4 pm: Former Aam Aadmi Party leader Yogendra Yadav joined the march in Delhi against Kanhaiya Kumar's arrest, and said the people at the rally were against forces that want to turn the country into a "Hindu Pakistan". Communist leader D Raja also joined the protest.
3.45 pm: Kanhaiya Kumar's parents were provided police protection at their home in Begusarai district, Bihar. They were given security after Kumar was attacked at Patiala House Court on Wednesday.
3.25 pm: Demonstrations are on across the country, both in favour of Kanhaiya Kumar and against JNU. Protesting Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad workers were blocked by a human chain and not allowed to enter the Jadavpur University campus in Kolkata on Friday afternoon. The ABVP workers reportedly got into a clash with pro-JNU protestors outside the campus. Rallies are also being held by the ABVP in Bengaluru, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi.
2.55 pm: Former Attorney General of Inda Soli Sorabjee will present Kumar's bail plea in the Supreme Court on Friday. Kumar's bail application, filed on Thursday, said there was a threat to his life and his personal liberty has been violated. It also added that a fair trial was not possible in a lower court.
2.50 pm: JNU students and others began a march at Mandi House in support of freeing Kanhaiya Kumar.
2.40 pm: Kanhaiya Kumar moved the Supreme Court, seeking bail. ANI reported that the matter will be heard on Friday. Kumar's lawyer Raju Ramachandran said the bail matter must be heard at the apex court since there were extraordinary hostile circumstances at Patiala House Court.
2.20 pm: After meeting with the President, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that if the Supreme Court's directions are violated at a court 200 metres from it, the country is very unsafe. He also said that if the government could not track down the few students accused of shouting anti-national slogans, it could not find the terrorists behind the Pathankot air base attack.
2 pm: Security was stepped up ahead of the JNU students' protest.
1.30 pm: JNU students rejected an advisory issued by the vice chancellor asking them to reconsider a march on Thursday afternoon, in support of Kanhaiya Kumar. The rally is set to start at 2.30 pm at Mandi House in Delhi.
1.10 pm: After a meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi lashed out at the Centre, saying action should be taken against anti-national elements, but that the government should not impose its ideology on students across the nation.
12.30 pm: The Bar Council of India apologised for the attacks on journalists by lawyers outside Patiala House Court, and said a three-member panel will investigate the violence. It also said licences of those lawyers found guilty may be revoked.
12.10 pm: Forty members of a student group were detained in Chennai for protesting in support of Kanhaiya Kumar. Folk singer Kovan was also among those detained. Kovan recently faced sedition charges for criticising the Tamil Nadu government, and said that sedition laws in the country are being misused.
12 pm: Vice-chancellor of JNU, Jagadeesh Kumar, urged students not to protest outside the university on Thursday. A protest rally is scheduled to start at 2.30 pm at Mandi House, organised by the JNU students' union and teachers' association. Agitators will walk to Jantar Mantar from Mandi House.
11.45 am: The Bar Council of India condemned attacks on journalists at Patiala House Court and sought a report from the Patiala House Court Bar Council.
11.35 am: Members of the Revolutionary Youth Federation in Chennai protested in support of JNU students.
11.30 am: Bharatiya Janata Party MLA OP Sharma went to Tilak Marg police station after being summoned by the police. Sharma attacked a man outside Patiala House Court on Monday. The Hindu reported that despite being part of the violent mob at the court that day, Sharma was not named in either of the two FIRs filed by police on Monday's incidents.
11.25 am: After three ABVP members criticised the Centre and said they resigned from the BJP's student wing, Shaurabh Sharma, ABVP member and joint secretary of JNU Student Union said they had received no official letter from them so far. Sharma added that they were still members of the ABVP.
11.15 am: PTI reported that the Supreme Court was told by its panel that the Delhi Police is under pressure to not oppose Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail. The Supreme Court said it was keeping an eye on the law and order situation at Patiala House Court. It also advised lawyers not to aggravate the situation by “giving unnecessary statements”, ANI reported.
10.30 am: Hindustan Times said that three lawyers summoned by Delhi Police regarding the attack on journalists did not appear before the police.
According to reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that sedition charges against Kanhaiya Kumar may have to be dropped if there is no concrete evidence of him having shouted anti-India slogans at the protest on February 9. If he is released, it will come as a massive blow to Delhi Police, who have stolidly maintained that they have proof of Kumar’s “anti-national” behaviour. Economic Times reported that Delhi Police told the home ministry that footage of the protest, where Kumar shouted the slogans, was of poor quality and that they had sent it for forensic analysis.
What happened on Wednesday:
Despite instructions from the Supreme Court to increase security at Patiala House Court ahead of Kanhaiya Kumar’s hearing, a journalist was attacked by lawyers at the court complex. The area was surrounded by security officials, who reportedly did not do much to control the mob outside the court. The apex court sent a team of its senior-most lawyers to assess the situation at Patiala House Court, soon after Kumar was also attacked when he entered the court complex. The five-member team had to be escorted in with security, and reported of a huge mob and heavy violence. The hearing was adjourned soon after it began, after which Kumar was remanded in judicial custody till March 2.
Kumar was reportedly put under suicide watch at Tihar Jail, and will be in isolation for two weeks. The Times of India reported that a 12-member “quick reaction team” will be deployed at the jail to monitor the situation and keep Kumar safe. Security officials also kept Kumar in a ward which has proximity to the hospital in case of an emergency. Security outside Tihar Jail was also increased. The Supreme Court on Wednesday made the police commissioner personally responsible for Kumar’s safety.
5.50 pm: Here are some photos from Bengaluru: