PATNA: "Please don't call my son a terrorist," says Meena Devi on the phone from Bihar's Begusarai district.
It's a voice in pain. She is the mother of Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the JNU Students Union, whose arrest on charges of sedition has rocked the nation.
"We have been constantly watching TV since we got to know that Kanhaiya has been arrested," she says.
Meena Devi has no TV at home, so she has to go over to her neighbour's for news of her son.
She's worried. "I hope police do not beat him too much. He has never disrespected his parents, forget the country. He cannot be a terrorist."
Meena is an anganwadi worker who earns Rs 3,500 per month. She and her eldest son Manikant are the bread-winners for the family. Her 65-year-old husband Jaishankar Singh is paralysed and bedridden for seven years.
Speaking from his bed, Singh says he knows the politics behind the arrest: his son is being framed for opposing Hindutva politics.
"My son has been part of so many campaigns against the BJP government, be it on fellowships or the suicide of a Dalit student in Hyderabad. He is being victimised for his opposition to Hindutva politics," he said.
"Kanhaiya can never be anti-national. There is no question of it. He is a nationalist like hundreds of thousands of youths of his age. He cannot insult Mother India," he said.
Last September, Kanhaiya swept the JNU Students' Union polls with 1,029 votes to become its president. It's the first time that a member of the All India Students Federation (AISF), the student wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI), has won the JNU student union.
Another of his brothers, Prince, who is preparing for competitive exams, said the family has been associated with CPI for generations.
"It is alarming that anti-national forces, which played no role in the national movement, are today branding my brother and his university as anti-national. This issue is not about Kanhaiya alone, it's bigger than him," Prince says.
Kanhaiya was arrested earlier last week in connection with a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy over a meeting held at JNU to protest against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. During the event, anti-India slogans were alleged to have been raised.
The JNUSU president, who has been popular among students right from the day of the presidential debate held before JNUSU election, had asserted a day before his arrest that he did not need a "certificate of patriotism from RSS".
Kanhaiya studied in R K C High School in Bihar's Barauni area before joining College of Commerce in Patna in 2004.
After completing his graduation from Nalanda Open University, Kumar moved to Delhi and subsequently joined JNU for his M.Phil in 2011. He is now a third year Ph.D student in the School of International Studies.