NEW DELHI: Amid high-voltage drama, violence and stone pelting by a huge crowd of lawyers at the Patiala House Court here on Wednesday, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Student Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested in a sedition case, was produced before a magistrate, who sent him to judicial custody till March 2.
Though police formed a human chain to escort Kanhaiya safely to the court room, he and some of the police personnel were attacked by agitated lawyers. Even inside the courtroom, an unidentified person tried to assault him and managed to flee.
Before Kanhaiya could be brought to the court, the lawyers had already attacked journalists, snatched their cellphones and deleted the video footage. The lawyers chanted Vande Mataram and waved the Tricolour after attacking the journalists. Soon after the assault, some lawyers made a mention of the incidents before a Supreme Court bench, which formed a committee to look into the security issue.
A six-member team of lawyers comprising Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhavan, Dushyant Dave, ADN Rao, Ajit Sinha and Harin Raval, appointed to inspect the Patiala court, also faced resistance from the agitating lawyers and one of them claimed he was attacked. Earlier in the day, a few lawyers entered the Supreme Court and chanted Vande Mataram during the hearing on the JNU matter. They were asked to leave the premises and later apologised.
Following the attacks, the Union Home Ministry asked the Delhi Police to submit a report detailing the Patiala House Court incident. “I have spoken to the Delhi police commissioner and asked him to send a detailed report on the Patiala court incident today itself,” said Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi. However, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi denied that Kanhaiya Kumar was beaten up and defended the handling of the situation, saying use of “heavy force” against lawyers would have been counter-productive and inappropriate.
“I do not think he was beaten up. There was lot of jostling. We expected jostling and considering that he was escorted by a requisite number of police officers. He was taken care of by our officers,” Bassi said.
Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen sent Kumar to judicial custody till March 2 when he was produced before the court after expiry of his police remand and the police saying that they did not require him for any custodial interrogation. During the hearing inside the court room, six lawyers representing Kanhaiya, a JNU professor, five journalists and police officials were allowed.
During the hearing which commenced at 3 pm, advocates Vrinda Grover and Sushil Bajaj, who appeared for Kanhaiya, told the magistrate that despite the Supreme Court’s direction, the police failed to stop the assault on Kanhaiya inside the court premises.
Kanhaiya was medically examined inside the court room and later shifted to the court jail disguised in police clothes around 6.30 pm, as lawyers were sitting outside the court room to stone him. Kanhaiya, in the court room, called for peace in the nation while affirming his confidence in the Constitution of India and his belief in the unity and integrity of the nation.
“I do not support those anti-national slogans with my constitutional commitment and I want to make an appeal to everyone not to disrupt peace in the nation, society and the universities over the issue,” Kanhaiya said in a statement, referring to the event organised on the JNU campus where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.
He also appealed to stop the “painful” media trial going on against him. “Please send me to jail if there is evidence against me that I am a traitor. But if there is no evidence against me, then there shouldn’t be a media trial,” he said.
As Delhi police did not seek Kanhaiya’s custodial interrogation, reports started coming in that police would go soft on him. Refuting such claims, Bassi maintained that there was sufficient evidence to nail him. He, however, said that he “personally feels that a young person perhaps be given bail.”
Earlier in the day, JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar appealed to all political parties against interfering in the matter and said the varsity was capable of dealing with such issues internally.
“I appeal to all political parties not to interfere in this matter. The university can deal with these issues internally,” he said.
Condemning the attack on students and teachers at Patiala House Court Complex, Kumar said, “It was brought to our notice that some of the teachers were manhandled. The university condemns the alleged attack on them and is of the view that the law should be allowed to take its course.”
Kumar said a high-level JNU committee was investigating the February 9 incident in which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised and the eight students who were found to be involved in it had been debarred from the university after a preliminary inquiry.