NEW DELHI: Even as students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) continued with their protest on Sunday over the arrest of student union president Kanhaiya Kumar and formed a human chain on the campus, Home Minister Rajnath Singh claimed that the stir had the support of Lashkar-e-Toiba founder Hafiz Saeed, prompting strong condemnation from Opposition parties who dared him to come out with evidence.
WATCH: 'Unfortunate that JNU incident has been supported by LeT Chief Hafiz Saeed', says HM Rajnath Singhhttps://t.co/Djplbeakyo— ANI (@ANI_news) February 14, 2016
In a related development, seven of the eight JNU students, who were debarred from academic activities earlier last week in connection with the controversial Afzal Guru event held on the campus, have been asked to appear before a high-level committee of the varsity probing the matter.
Meanwhile, teachers in the university came out in support of the students, demanding the release of Kumar and said they have received the support of teachers from all 40 central universities. They appealed to the public not to brand JNU as anti-national.
“The incident (Afzal event) at JNU has received support from Hafiz Saeed. This is a truth the nation needs to understand. What happened was very unfortunate,” said Rajnath in Allahabad. Following this, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Rajnath has to come out and share the evidence he has with the country to back up his “serious allegation”.
CPI leader too D Raja demanded that the evidence be made public.
Strong condemnation also came from National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who said it is a “very serious charge” against the students and that the evidence must be shared with all.
Leader of Opposition in RS Ghulam Nabi Azad said whatever charges of anti-nationalism and sedition were slapped against the students by the Home Ministry and the Delhi Police, they were very serious. Warning Rajnath, Azad said, “This is a very serious charge against students of a well-reputed university of our country.”
He further said, “This is for the first time that the Union government, within months, is categorising the students of the university as anti-nationals. If the government is able to prove it, well and good. Should they fail, they have to face serious charges.” Rajnath’s comments came two days after a series of tweets, purportedly by Hafiz Saeed, appeared urging Pakistanis to support the agitation in JNU. Police are investigating whether the Twitter handle actually belonged to the LeT founder.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said the students, who were debarred from academic activities in connection with the Afzal Guru event, should join the probe rather than run away. “Running away will not do,” said Bassi.
As Rajnath’s statement triggered an uproar, a ministry spokesperson said the minister’s statement was based on inputs from “different agencies”. “Statement of the Home Minister is based on the inputs available from different agencies,” the spokesperson said.
Later in the day, Rajnath tweeted, “I appeal to all organisations and political parties to stand united on issues pertaining to unity, sovereignty and integrity of the country. Those involved in anti-India activities or propaganda will not be spared and those who are innocent will not be harassed.”
Political leaders cutting across party lines had on Saturday descended on the campus expressing their solidarity with the students. They included Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who charged the government of being anti-national by arresting Kumar and muzzling freedom of expression.
Amid rising political temper over the JNU incident, the RSS made a veiled attack on the Congress and Left over their stand on the row, saying some leaders are “condoning anti-national acts instead of demanding action against them”. RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya termed as “serious” what he claimed were students engaging in “anti-India activities” on the campus of a central university and some teachers supporting them.
Meanwhile, a group of youth tried to vandalise the CPM headquarters here against the backdrop of the JNU campus row. Police detained one of them. While the CPM said the attackers were BJP workers who also hurled stones, the police said the detainee claimed to be a member of an outfit called Aam Aadmi Sena.
Confirming the attack, Yechury said, “They tried to write slogans like Pakistan Zindabad on our office board. They were pursued by our comrades and one of them was caught and handed over to the police.”