Two former members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on Wednesday claimed that the row at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in February 2016 had been planned by the student outfit, PTI reported. They questioned the timing of the chargesheet filed against students of the university in a sedition case that was registered soon after the controversy.

The police had filed a chargesheet on Monday naming student activists Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, and six others in the sedition case. Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya were arrested in February 2016 on sedition charges for their involvement in a protest in which several students allegedly shouted anti-national slogans.

Jatin Goraya, who was the vice-president of ABVP’s unit at the university in 2016, and Pradeep Narwal, former joint-secretary of the unit at the time, addressed a press conference in Delhi, alleging that the chargesheet was politically motivated and that the incident at the university had been planned by ABVP members. Goraya and Narwal had resigned from the ABVP in 2016. Narwal is a Congress activist now.

Goraya alleged the sedition row at the university was orchestrated to ensure the movement that started after the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad died down. “...The entire JNU row was orchestrated by the ABVP to gain attention,” he said, according to PTI. “Hashtags like #ShutdownJNU were started on social media to divert attention. It was planned by the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party], RSS [Rashtraiya Swayamsevak Sangh] and ABVP.”

“The most important thing is that the students shown shouting Pakistan Zindabad slogans in a Zee News video which was found to be fake [by the magisterial probe] were ABVP members,” The Telegraph quoted Goraya as saying. “If the police think the video is genuine, why haven’t the police contacted them yet, or added their names to the chargesheet?”

Narwal said: “Three years ago, [the] JNU issue had triggered a media trial and with the filing of the chargesheet, it has started again. A chargesheet is usually filed within 90 days after the FIR, but what took the police three years to file the chargesheet? It is clear that the whole thing is politically motivated.”

Narwal claimed the chargesheet was filed days before Vemula’s death anniversary to divert people’s attention from the government’s marginalisation of the oppressed, and rising unemployment ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, reported The Telegraph.

ABVP leader Saurabh Sharma, who was joint secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union in 2016, claimed Goraya and Narwal had joined the Congress and the press conference was organised on the directions of Rahul Gandhi, “who wants to divert the issue with these lies and propaganda”, reported The Indian Express. Goraya is not a member of the Congress.

JNU sedition chargesheet

The Delhi Police have relied on video footage from six mobile phones, of which at least three belong to present or former members of the ABVP’s JNU unit, while one belonged to a constable, in its chargesheet in the sedition case, reported The Indian Express. Police have also cited footage from a video camera belonging to Zee News and a debate aired on February 10, 2016 on the channel as part of the evidence.

Police have cited 13 emails in the chargesheet. According to the chargesheet, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya “exchanged incriminatory posters to excite disaffection towards the idea of India and by advocating the terrorist acts committed by Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt by glamourising them”.