The clumsy attempt to show Kanhaiya Kumar cosying up to a supposed teacher through a photograph posted on social media proved short-lived. It was merely a warm moment with a fellow-student, as a number of people pointed out.
In the video above, Kumar responds to these allegations, saying, "It's so sad and shameful that there are consistent attacks on women on the JNU campus".
Referring to the woman student in that picture, he questions, "Is this not an attack on her mental freedom? Is this a victory for Bharat mata or a defeat? You can decide for yourself."
The picture has now been removed from the website of Punjab Kesari, which posted it too, though it remains alive on the Internet. But so hamhanded was the attempt to malign Kumar that even an editor at the right-leaning magazine Swarajya decried the use of this picture. In an angry Facebook post he referred to the people behind the ploy as, "...simply put, idiots. As members of our club, you are an embarrassment".
The photograph also attempts to demonise the university in the conservative imagination as a centre of so-called loose morals. Sucheta De, a former student leader at the university, also commented, "How tragic that on Women's Day itself, the Punjab Kesari chooses to malign our friend from JNU, with a picture where she is sharing happiness with Kanhaiya when he came back to campus. How scared they are with women expressing happiness. How scared they are to know men and women can be comrades in arms in war against fascism. We know they are scared."