The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is right now in the news for all the wrong reasons. In the last few days the premier university has seen its student president put behind the bars, police raining blows on students, the Union Home Minister threatening tough action against supposed anti-national elements, and plenty of clashes between students bodies. Now, Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the university’s student body, has been arrested on charges of criminal conspiracy and sedition. Before, one actually judges him for the said allegations, which are highly serious in nature, it may be worthwhile to take a look at what the Indian Constitution defines as sedition.
What does the Indian Constitution Say About Sedition?
The Indian law regarding sedition states quite clearly that only if a supposedly-seditious speech incites people to be violent, or take any such action that may be deemed as a contravention of laws, it be punished. The Constitution also draws a clear distinction between advocacy and incitement. This means that even if a person or a group of individuals advocate that the state may be violently overthrown it does not amount to sedition and the concerned entity/ies cannot be put behind bars. If someone promotes rivalry between communities on the basis of factors such as religion and race then that act can be regarded as seditious.
Timeline of events at JNU
It all started when students at JNU, most of who were members of the Democratic Students’ Union – a Left-oriented body, held an event to commemorate the hanging of Afzal Guru, who had attacked the parliament back in 2001. It was basically a protest meeting. Over there, some protesting students, alongwith a few outsiders, shouted supposedly anti-Indian slogans and also termed Afazal Guru a martyr. The ABVP protested against the said event and this led to a clash between both units.
Incidentally the university administration had also withdrawn its permission for the event based on the complaints of ABVP. When the police was informed of the same they came and arrested a few unknown people on charges of sedition. A disciplinary inquiry into the incident was initiated by M Jagadeesh Kumar, the Vice Chancellor of the University. It also saw ABVP and JNUSU protesting against each other.
The students groups, supported by Left parties, have already accused the administration of acting on the orders of ABVP, and the ABVP has burnt effigies of the administrators because of not taking sufficient action against ones they have termed anti-national elements. Incidentally SAR Geelani, a professor at Delhi University, was also charged with sedition, because he condemned the hanging of Afzal Guru at a public event.
What had Kanhaiya Kumar said?
To start with, Kumar and his compatriots had labeled the deaths of Guru and Maqbool Bhatt as judicial killings. They had chanted slogans such as “Shaeed Afzal Guru”, “India ke kitne tukde honge”, and “Kitne Afzal Guru maroge, har ghar me paida hoga ek Afzal”. They also expressed their support for the problems being faced by migrants from Kashmir and called for an independent Kashmir.
What is the Government Thinking?
Rajnath Singh, the Union Home Minister, has stated in clear terms that the administration will not tolerate any anti-national element in the university premises. He has further said that strict action will be taken against such elements. He has further stated that this incident had the backing of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and it is important that the country understands that. Hafiz Sayyed has meanwhile stated that the way Indian Government is blaming him for the entire furore reflects rather poorly on the government itself. Smriti Irani, the Union Human Resource Development Minister, has also reacted strongly to the incident saying that the country shall not tolerate any insult against itself. In fact, the complaint launched against the said protest by Maheish Girri, a BJP MP, played a major role in the arrest of Kanhaiya and other unknown students. Rajan Bhagat, the spokesperson of Delhi Police, has said that an FIR has been lodged at the Vasant Kunj North police station under Section 120B of IPC for criminal conspiracy and Section 124 A for sedition. Omar Abdullah has criticized the government in this case. The incident has also sparked a clash of words between BJP, and Congress and CPIM with the former attacking the latter for supporting the students at JNU.
What are the Students Saying?
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) has already clarified that it does not have anything with the slogans and has also termed them undemocratic. However, it has laid into ABVP for bringing into disrepute the hitherto democratic traditions of the university. ABVP students have meanwhile demanded action against students whom they perceive as anti-national elements within the university. The list includes Umar Waheed, a member of DSU. The students at JNU have meanwhile asked that police should not be brought inside the campus. They have also been protesting against the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar who has received the support of Left leaders who have met Rajnath and asked for him to be released from prison.
Former DU Professor Arrested on Sedition and Other Charges
At around 03:00 a.m. in the morning of 16 February, Former Delhi University teacher SAR Geelani was arrested on sedition and an array of charges for allegedly organising an event in support of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Geelani was also acquitted in the Parliament attack case in 2003. Having been taken to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital for a medical check-up, Geelani’s arrest has come amid a raging controversy over the arrest of JNU’s student’s union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who was allegedly shouting anti-India slogans at 9 February event at the campus. Additionally, JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar is also denying that he allowed police an unprecedented free run on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on 12 February.
Students Hold Pro-Afzal Guru Rally at Jadavpur University
Students of Jadavpur University, in West Bengal, participated in a torch rally on Tuesday. According to media reports, the students shouted slogans against the hanging of Afzal Guru, the Parliament attack convict. The students, who were affiliated to various Left parties, were protesting the alleged police atrocities inside the JNU campus. During the rally a placard in support of Afzal Guru was briefly held up by the students; however, others students in the crowd pulled it down. During the start of the rally a number of slogans were also raised but they too were hushed up by the student leaders.
What Happened on 17 February?
- JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar taken to Tihar jail from Patiala House court.
- A group of lawyers entered into the Patiala House court complex on Wednesday (17 February) and attacked a journalist and student ahead of the hearing in the sedition case. The group was reportedly led by Vikram Chauhan, one of those lawyers who had attacked the JNU students and faculty on 15 February.
- Doctor was called to the court premises after it came to pass that JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar was assaulted by those lawyers. Earlier in the day, Kanhaiya Kumar was remanded to judicial custody till 2 March.
- According to The Hindu, someone hurled a shoe at Kanhaiya Kumar’s lawyer and ex-Union Minister Kapil Sibal at the Patiala House court on Wednesday afternoon.
- Kanhaiya Kumar was taken to Tihar Jail from Patiala House court on Wednesday. Interestingly, he was kept in jail number 3, the same place where Afzal Guru – the 2001 Parliament attack mastermind – was kept.
- Kumar has been kept under CCTV surveillance and he is alone in the cell. He has requested jail officials for proper security arrangement.
- Kumar will be represented by Raju Ramachandra and Soli Sorabjee. Sorabjee had argued that the sedition charge has been wrongly slapped against Kumar.
- On Friday, the Supreme Court will hear the bail request of Kumar.
- Three leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) resigned on Wednesday over the JNU incident and “difference of opinion” on other issues. Pradeep Narwal, who is the joint secretary, ABVP, JNU, Rahul Yadav and Ankit Hans criticized the Centre for “unleashing oppression on the student community” and refused to be the “mouthpiece of such a government”. Their decision found endorsement among journalists like Shekhar Gupta who said that the resignation of these young ABVP leaders shows that the young generation respects arguments and not goondaism.
What Happened on 18 February?
- The students of Jawaharlal Nehru University staged a Solidarity March for the student’s union president Kanhaiya Kumar on Thursday. They marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. Delhi University teachers, including DU Teachers’ Association president Nandita Narain, joined the march.
- The Solidarity March also witnessed the presence of teachers from Aligarh Muslim University and the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Students from Allahabad University and Hyderabad University were also present.
- The All India Students Federation (AISF) also started a separate protest march at Mandi House in support of Kanhaiya Kumar.
- The BJP, meanwhile, launched a three-day Jan Swabhiman Abhiyan on Thursday to stir up ‘nationalism’ among people of India. The party is likely to put forward its stand on the JNU incident.
What Happened on 19 February?
- The Supreme Court refused to hear the bail plea of Kanhaiya Kumar and directed the matter to the Delhi High Court. The apex court observed that hearing Kanhaiya’s bail plea will open floodgates of more such requests in the future.
- Kanhaiya Kumar’s lawyers have moved the Delhi HC and the plea is likely to be come up for hearing on Monday. In that case, Kumar will have to spend three more nights in Tihar Jail.
Supreme Court, meanwhile, agreed to hear a plea on initiating contempt proceedings against Kanhaiya Kumar, absconding student Umar Khalid, ex-DU professor SAR Geelani and four others.
- Delhi Police submitted their report on Patiala House Court violence in the Supreme Court. According to reports, the Delhi Police has not sought any extension of police remand for Kumar.
- Meanwhile, father of Umar Khalid, JNU student who is believed to have conceived the idea of hosting a pro-Afzal Guru event, has said that media is branding his son as a traitor. Khalid’s father questioned the way his ‘communist’ son was branded because of his earlier association with the SIMI. According to him, his son is being punished for having a Muslim name.
- The petition filed in Delhi High Court on Friday accused the Delhi police commissioner B S Bassi of “influencing” the probe in the sedition case against Kanhaiya Kumar. According to the petition, the police chief was “playing at the hands” of certain political parties.
What Happened on 20 February?
- The Delhi Police issued lookout notices, which means it has asked the Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office to alert airport authorities to look out for three JNU students – Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Aswathi. This notice is generally issued to arrest people who are travelling.
- The disappearance of Umar Khalid has put pressure on his family as it has brought the spotlight on his father’s previous membership of SIMI. In fact, Khalid’s sister has been getting lewd messages on social media threatening sexual assault.
- Clashes erupted in Srinagar between security forces and the supporters of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The supporters of Afzal Guru raised flags of Pakistan and Islamic State. It is for the first time that the protesters showed banners saying ‘Thank JNU’.
- The Delhi Police asked media channel, Zee News, for the camera of its reporter and the “original chip” that contains the footage of the alleged anti-national slogans given on the JNU campus on 9 February.
What Happened on 21 February?
- Ex-servicemen and people from all walks of life on Sunday took part in a unity march against the alleged anti-national slogans that were shouted on the campus of JNU. According to media reports, the march was held under the banner of ‘March for Unity to Save the Country. The march began at Raj Ghat in the morning and ended with a public meeting at the Parliament Street.
- Five JNU students, who were accused of sedition and were absconding, were seen on the university campus on Sunday night. Delhi Police requested Khalid to come out of the campus so that he can be arrested.
- A reporter working with Zee News resigned after accusing the news channel of deliberately misinterpreting a video clip to call Kanhaiya Kumar and other JNU students anti-nationals.
What Happened on 22 February?
- The JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora requested the intervention of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in ensuring safety of the family of Umar Khalid, against whom look out notice has been issued in connection with a sedition case.
- The JNU administration has called a meeting of top university officials on Monday to discuss the resurfacing of five students on campus.
- Delhi Police officials will talk to the Vice Chancellor after the meeting and request him to ask the students to surrender.
What Happened on 23 February?
- The Delhi Police adopted a wait-and-watch policy. They seem to wait for the results of Delhi HC’s hearing on Kanhaiya’s bail plea on Tuesday before arresting the students who resurfaced at the JNU campus on Sunday night.
- Meanwhile, BJP MLA from Rajasthan’s Alwar district, Gyandev Ahuja, made a bizarre statement as he said that “50,000 pieces of bones, 3,000 used condoms, 500 used abortion injections and 10,000 cigarette pieces, are found in JNU every day.
What Happened on 24 February?
- JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya surrendered before the Delhi Police on Tuesday midnight as per the directions of the Delhi High Court.
- Earlier, both the students had moved the Delhi HC seeking protection so that they can surrender. The court refused to grant interim protection.
- The Delhi High Court adjourned the bail plea hearing of JNU Student Kanhaiya Kumar for February 29 and said that Kanhaiya’s custodial remand is necessary following the recent developments.
What Happened on 25 February?
- The Supreme Court will hear a plea seeking contempt action against three lawyers who were allegedly caught on camera boasting about having beaten up JN) students union president Kanhaiya Kumar and other. The hearing will happen on Friday.
- Meanwhile, media reports suggested that JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, who were arrested on charges of sedition, have been kept in separate rooms and questioned separately.
- HRD minister Smriti Irani continued to defend government’s actions with regards to JNU issue and suicide of Dalit student in Hyderabad university for the second successive days.
What Happened on 26 February?
- The Supreme Court issued notices to three lawyers who were caught on video involving in violence at Delhi’s Patiala House court during the hearings of arrested JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar.
- The court also sought responses from the Centre and Delhi Police on a plea seeking SIT probe against the three lawyers.
What Happened on 27 February?
- Following the intelligence reports claiming a possibility of Kanhaiya Kumar being attacked inside the prison, the security of the student has been beefed up at Delhi’s Tihar Jail. His bail plea will be heard by the High Court on 29 February.
- Ashutosh Kumar, one of the students wanted by Delhi Police, joined the police probe into the pro-Afzal Guru event on Saturday. He is likely to be asked to identify people who raised anti-national slogans.
What Happened on 29 February?
- The Delhi High Court reserves its order on bail plea of Kanhaiya Kumar for 2 March and asked the Delhi Police whether Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech needed such “the hue and cry”.
- Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has refused to hear the plea seeking criminal contempt proceeding against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and other students. It asked the petitioner to take consent of Attorney General before the court hears any plea.
Kanhaiya Kumar Released from Tihar Jail
After the Delhi High Court ordered an interim bail to the JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on Wednesday, he was released from the Tihar Jail. He had to furnish bail bond and a JNU professor stood as surety. A secret release of Kanhaiya Kumar was possible because of a close coordination between the Delhi Police and Tihar Jail authorities. Kanhaiya Kumar addressed a huge gathering of students on Thursday night.
15 April 2016- JNU moderated its admission policy
JNU amended its admission policy after nearly a decade. It reduced the compulsory grace points allotted to women candidates. To put it simply, all the female and transgender candidates who have pursued their education from any area mentioned under JNU’s list of backward areas would be entitled to a relaxation of four marks. On the contrary, girls and transgenders not belonging to any backward areas would be eligible for receiving a relaxation of just two points.
25 April 2016- JNU rusticated Umar, imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 on Kanhaiya
JNU rusticated Umar Khalid along with two other students in addition to imposing a fine of Rs. 10,000 on Kanhaiya Kumar in connection with the 9 February event held against Afzal Guru’s hanging. While Khalid has been rusticated for one semester, Anriban Bhattacharya till 15 July, JNU student Mujeeb Gattoo has been rusticated for two semesters.
27 April 2016- Kanhaiya Kumar and others go on an indefinite hunger strike
JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar and a group of other students started an indefinite hunger strike, demanding a complete rollback of the punishment set for them by the university authorities. Kumar, Khalia and Bhattacharya declared that they reject the recommendations of the committee that has investigated the events organised during the programme on Afzal Guru held on the JNU campus on 9 February 2016.
28 April 2016- 11 JNU teachers claim JNU to have become ‘a den of organised sex racket’
A group of eleven teachers have claimed sex racket, use of drugs, alcohol rampant inside the JNU campus. All these teachers are supposedly inclined to the BJP and RSS ideology and have prepared a 200-page document (compiled last year) and submitted the same to university administration, quoting the varsity as ‘a den of organised sex racket’.
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