A high-level inquiry committee set by Jawaharlal Nehru University has upheld the rustication of student leader Umar Khalid, PTI reported. The panel also upheld a fine of Rs 10,000 imposed on former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union Kanhaiya Kumar.

The varsity had penalised the two students for their involvement in a protest against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru where several students allegedly shouted “anti-national slogans” in February 2016.

Khalid rejected the order and said they will challenge it in court. “Once again, it is a biased, politically motivated, a predetermined and a farcical judgment they have come up with,” Khalid told The Wire. “We are not accepting the fine or any other order, including the rustication. We are going to challenge it in a court of law in the coming days.”

Khalid added: “The predetermined nature of it is quite evident from the fact that this is the third time they have punished us, well this is the third time they have punished me in the last two years for the same alleged activities. The last two times we had challenged it in court and the court had set aside the punishment and ordered, both times, an appeal and a re-probe by the JNU administration.”

The students’ union condemned the decision and said it would take appropriate legal recourse to counter it. “Since 2014, after the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power, student leaders who have been vocal about government’s shameless saffronisation propaganda in various campuses across the nation have been victimised and charged under false cases,” a statement issued by the student body said. “JNU being one of the torchbearers in the struggles against the BJP government’s attack on higher education has been subjected to various false charges.”

The union said the Delhi police had failed to file a chargesheet against the accused, two years after filing first information reports against several students.

The protest

After the protest on February 9, 2016 led to outrage from Hindutva groups and a section of the media, JNU set up an inquiry commission. The panel found several students, including Kumar, Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya guilty and imposed fines on them.

In all, the university served show cause notices to 14 students but they refused to accept the panel’s report. Some of the students had been arrested for sedition for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during the protest.

The JNU then rusticated them and withdrew their hostel facilities, among other punishments. The students challenged the decision in the Delhi High Court, which directed them to approach the appellate authority.