Who is Kanhaiya Kumar?

JNU Student Kanhaiya Kumar


For those uninitiated, the president of JNUSU (Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union), Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested by the Delhi Police on 12 February on charges of sedition. Kumar, who allegedly raised anti-India slogans during a pro-Afzal Guru event at the JNU campus on 9 February, has been remanded to judicial custody till 2 March and is being questioned by officials from the Delhi Police.

Kanhaiya Kumar: A Village Boy With a Brilliant Academic Record

There has been a lot of curiosity regarding the past of Kanhaiya Kumar and his political affiliations. Whatever little has emerged from news reports and and police interrogations, Kumar hails from a village called Bihat in Begusarai district of Bihar. The village, which is part of the Teghra legislative assembly constituency, is considered a CPI bastion. In fact, his family has been the supporters of the Communist Party of India (CPI). Kumar studied in RKC High School in Barauni and moved to Patna to join the College of Commerce. After completing his post graduation, he joined JNU. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD in African studies at the School of International Studies.

Kumar was not only a bright student but also a good speaker. Even as a student, he excelled in inter-college and inter-university debates. In 2007, he was one of the members of the Bihar students’ delegation that took part in debate competition organised by the Union government. Kumar has always been active as a student and took part in plays and activities organised by IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association). It should be mentioned here that IPTA is considered a left-leaning cultural group.

Kanhaiya Kumar: A Politically Sound Student With an Inclination Towards Left Ideology

Kumar was initiated in student politics during his college days. Back in 2002, Kumar joined the All India Students Federation (AISF), which is the students wing of the CPI. In September 2015, Kumar became the first member of the AISF to become the president of the JNU students’ union. Even before he became the JNUSU president, he had been actively involved in the National Service Scheme (NSS), a public service programme. He had also worked towards revival of many Marxist centres of learning at the Patna University.

Family of Kanhaiya Kumar

Jaishankar Singh, Kumar’s father, has been suffering from paralysis for past few years and he is completely bedridden. His mother, Meena Devi, runs the family by working as an Anganwadi worker. She is helped by her eldest son who is doing a job in a private sector. His mother was taken aback to hear the news of her son’s arrest and urged people not to call him a terrorist because “he has never disrespected his parents, forget the country”.

Pro-Afzal Guru Event at JNU: As it Turned Out

Here are some of the facts that have emerged during the interrogation of Kanhaiya Kumar.

  1. Kumar came to know on the evening of 8 February that a cultural event will be organised at JNU by the Democratic Students Union (DSU). He was neither aware of the agenda of the event nor did he have any idea that pro-Afzal Guru and anti-India slogans were going to be raised.
  2. Kumar told the police that AISF members woke him up on the evening of 9 February and told him that the administration had cancelled the permission to host the event.
  3. According to Kanhaiya Kumar, he reached the Sabarmati Dhaba, the venue of the event, when he learnt from his AISF associates that a clash was erupting between the ABVP and members of the DSU.
  4. Although Kumar admitted having made a fiery speech criticizing the the Modi Government and its policies, he denied raising any anti-national slogans that can be called seditious.
  5. Kumar has reportedly helped the cops identify the members of the DSU who were present during the event and said that a lot of people giving anti-India slogans had come from outside JNU.

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.
  • Delhi Police submitted their report on Patiala House Court violence in the Supreme Court. However, they did not seek any extension of police remand for Kumar.
  • Kanhaiya Kumar not only wants bail, but also wants to challenge his arrest. According to reports, Kumar’s lawyers will file a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution to question the FIR against the student leader under sedition law.
  • Kumar’s lawyers have moved the Delhi HC and the plea is likely to be come up for hearing on Monday.
  • The Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea on initiating contempt of court proceedings against Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, ex-DU professor SAR Geelani and four others.

What Happened on 21 February?

  • Parents of Kanhaiya Kumar took a 20-hour train ride and arrived in Delhi on Saturday with a hope to meet their son who is lodged in Tihar Jail.
  • According to media reports, the Facebook account of Kanhaiya Kumar was hacked on Saturday. The hackers have changed his profile and cover pictures.
  • Students and teachers of several international universities such as University of California and Yale came out in support of JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar and narrated his allegedly seditious speech in English. They also uploaded their videos online.
  • Family members of Kanhaiya Kumar sought PM Modi’s intervention and requested him to  “break silence” over the row.

 What Happened on 22 February?

  • The Supreme Court is expected to hear the plea seeking contempt action against jailed JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar along with former Delhi University lecturer SAR Gilani and few others.
  • After more than 10 days since JNSU President Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on sedition charges, PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti said that the “It should be left for courts to decide who is guilty or not, it should not be decided by media or politicians”.

What Happened on 23 February?

  • Based on the orders of the Supreme Court, heavy security arrangement has been made at the Delhi High Court where Kanhaiya Kumar will come for the hearing.
  • According to the reports  submitted to Supreme Court over the violence at Patiala House Court, the  JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar was not assaulted outside the courtroom on 17 February and not inside the courtroom.
  • In a report submitted to the Delhi High Court, the Delhi Police has asserted that JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar was present with a group  that was shouting anti-national slogans. The report claimed that he was involved in many anti-national activities on the university campus.
  • The Delhi High Court today deferred the bail plea hearing of  JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar till Wednesday. In a similar development, the Delhi Police opposed the bail plea of the JNU student leader.

Shashi Tharoor Kicks Up Controversy by Comparing Kanhaiya with Bhagat Singh

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor triggered a controversy with his speech at JNU Campus on Sunday (20 March) . During his long speech, he comparing JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar with freedom fighter Bhagat Singh by saying that both have some qualities in common.” This evoked sharp reaction from the Opposition with the BJP questioning  Tharoor’s IQ.

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