On Friday, hours after Home Minister Rajnath Singh condemned the "anti-national" slogans that some people shouted during an event at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University on February 9 and warned of "strongest possible" action against them, the Delhi Police swung into action. It raided a number of hostels at JNU and arrested Student Union President Kanhaiya Kumar, charging him with sedition.
Kumar's arrest has united the academic community as teachers joined students in condemning the police action, even as political outfits on the campus distanced themselves from the "divisive" sloganeering on February 9.
While Kumar has been sent to police remand for three days as police continues to look for those who participated in the "cultural programme" on February 9 where students allegedly spoke up against Afzal Guru's execution and slogans for Kashmiri's right to "self-determination" were raised.
Kumar, who is now being blamed for being “anti-national”, has vociferously spoken against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its ideological fountainhead – the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh – in the past. On Friday, a few hours before being arrested by Delhi Police personnel dressed in plain clothes, he addressed a gathering on the campus in the midst of protests by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad demanding action against the students who participated in the event on February 9.
Kumar took to the stairwell and slammed the BJP government for targeting dissenters with police brutality and not doing enough for the students.
The video above shows him criticising the government for “saffronising” the country and increasing dominance of the RSS in the country.
“We don’t need a patriotism certificate from the RSS”, he says. “We love this country. We fight for the 80% poor population of this country. We trust the constitution of this country. If anyone challenges the constitution, be it the Sanghis, it won’t be tolerated," he says, while exhorting students of exercising their democratic and constitutional rights, while working for the unity of the country.
He repeated the sentiment expressed in an earlier statement by JNUSU, the union he heads, that had categorically said, “At the outset, we condemn the divisive slogans that were raised by some people on that day. It is important to note that the slogans were not raised by members of Left organisations or JNU students."
Invoking Ambedkar, Kumar highlighted the hypocrisy of authorities who “support capital punishment and casteism” in the country, and urged students to unite against all divisive forces. Pointing to his phone, he said he had videos of ABVP leaders abusing his mother and asked if those raising the slogan of Bharat Mata ki Jai realised that she along with mothers of other oppressed and Dalits and dissenters are also Bhatat Matas or mothers of India.
Earlier, Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani had also condemned the incident of February 9 and said, "The nation can never tolerate any insult to mother India."