NEW DELHI: On a day when ex-servicemen threatened to return their Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) degrees if the alleged anti-national activities continued on the campus, high drama prevailed on Saturday when Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who demanded the release of Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, was greeted with black flags apparently by ABVP activists. In a letter to the vice chancellor, the veterans said it was becoming difficult for them to be associated with the varsity.
Meanwhile, according to reports, seven students, who were trying to protest at Indira Gandhi Kala Kendra here, have been detained for questioning in connection with the case.
The JNU campus wore a veritable political battlefield-look as Rahul hit out at the government, accusing it of being anti-national by arresting Kumar and said it was “terrified of weak Indian people raising their voice”. The protesters, however, kept raising slogans like “Rahul Gandhi go back”. “People who showed black flag on my face, I feel proud that in my country they have the right to show black flag in front of my face,” Rahul said. “What is anti-national? Most anti-national people are those suppressing the voice of students in JNU,” he added. On Friday, he had accused the Modi government of “bullying” the institution. The Congress leader joined the protest over Kumar’s arrest and was seen seated with Left leaders like Sitaram Yechury and D Raja along with the students. The Delhi government has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. Rahul was accompanied by former minister Anand Sharma. They interacted with the students and lauded the university for representing free voice. Drawing parallels between the action against the JNU students and events leading to the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad, Rahul said the question was why a student was “not allowed to say what he believes in”.
Reacting strongly to Rahul’s comments, the BJP alleged that they were speaking in the voice of Lashkar-e-Toiba’s Hafiz Saeed which was an insult to the martyrs and would boost the morale of anti-national forces.
Earlier in the day, Left leaders and JD(U) leader K C Tyagi met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and demanded the release of Kumar, arrested on sedition charges. Yechury said after the meeting that the Delhi Police has released a list of 20 students in connection with the event, which also includes D Raja’s daughter. “But we are asking are they seen in the video shouting slogans?” he said. Yechury alleged that the new vice chancellor is acting on the instructions of the government and allowed the police to go ahead with the crackdown.
Meanwhile, Anand Sharma said he was physically assaulted by ABVP activists on the JNU campus when he was returning with Rahul after attending a protest meeting there.
Anand Sharma Assaulted?
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Saturday night alleged that he was physically assaulted by ABVP activists on the JNU campus when he was returning with Rahul Gandhi after attending a protest meeting held by students. Sharma said the SPG had to take Rahul out by an alternate vehicle as the alleged attackers had surrounded his vehicle as well.