Jawaharlal University, New Delhi, is one of the top Universities of India. Several military colleges and schools proudly bear accreditation to JNU. Indian Administrative Service trainee officers on completion of their course are awarded a Master’s degree by this University which boasts of some 8000 students in all disciplines of knowledge and has research wings for science as well as humanities.
JNU is also a catalyst for serious intellectual activities, fierce debates and occasional rebellion against the establishment. Many of the prominent Communist leaders of today have been its alumni – Sitaram Yechuri, Prakash Karat and Isaac Thomas, among them. So were Nirmala Sitaraman, a minister in the current right-wing BJP government and Congress leader Digvijay Singh (former Minister of State for Home Affairs).
Altercation between the left-leaning students’ unions and the right-wing ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad meaning All-India Students’ Federation), the youth wing of the ideologically militant RSS is common place and had once led to the stoppage of elections by the Supreme Court.
On 9th February, 2013 Mohammed Afzal Guru, an alleged Kashmiri rebel who was accused of being a part of the conspiracy in an attack on Parliament by five terrorists was executed. . Guru was hanged in a hurry by the then Congress government to score a point over its opponent Bharatiya Janta Party in the election fever that was heating up though the elections were 17 months away. The Supreme Court, on dismissing Afzal’s appeal, stated that although the evidence was circumstantial, the “collective conscience of the Nation” demanded that Guru be awarded the capital punishment. Evidently, the collective conscience of Kashmiris, who believed that Afzal was merely a scapegoat, was not taken into account. The man from Kashmir was hanged, secretly buried, and the family received the information three days too late.
Several eminent people, including former judges of the High Court and Supreme Court, lawyers, writers, social leaders and Hindu Mahants said that the hanging was politically motivated. Click here to .read their views.:
The worst effect of the hanging was that the Kashmiri Muslims, who form a large majority of the State, were further alienated from the mainstream. Right or wrong, the proximity in time – hanging of a Pakistani intruder -Ajmal Kasab – who was instrumental in the death of 166 citizens and that of Afzal Guru made it appear that Kashmir was treated at par with a foreign enemy.
Maqbool Bhatt (born in 1938) was one of the founders and leaders of Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). He had not denied his complicity in the murder of one Amar Chand, a police inspector of the Crime Branch in Kashmir. He escaped Indian jail to Pakistan by digging a tunnel.Bhat was not for Kashmir to join Pakistan, but for it to be a Free Country. He was instrumental in the hijacking of Indian aircraft twice. While he was still hoping that his petition to the President of India for clemency on the
Bhat was not for Kashmir to join Pakistan, but for it to be a Free Country. He was instrumental in the hijacking of Indian aircraft twice.
While he was waiting, hoping that his plea to the President of India for clemency on the grounds of an unfair trial would be granted, an Indian diplomat in London, Ravindra Mhatre, was kidnapped by men who demanded Maqbool Bhat’s release in return for Mhatre’s release. However, without waiting for a response, the kidnappers killed Mhatre two days later. An infuriated government under Indira Gandhi had Maqbool mount the gallows on February 11, 1984.
Five years later, the followers of Maqbool shot dead the Presiding judge Neelkanth Ganjoo who had sentenced the latter to death.
Though already dead a month before the JNU incident (he committed suicide on 17th January, 2016 leaving an emotionally charged suicide note), the events of 9th, 11th February and the following turbulent days had much to do with him.
Rohit, (who would have been 27 on 30th January, 13 days after his death) was a research scholar in the Hyderabad Central University under the government of India. He depended on the scholarship of about Rupees 28,000 (including allowances) not only to support himself, but also to send a major portion of it to his parents. As long as the money was forthcoming, he would send Rupees 20,000 home and live the next month on the remaining money
Rohit was the founder-member of a new students’ union he called Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA). Although Bhimrao Ambedkar was the chief architect of the Constitution of India, his name is anathema to Hindu zealots because Ambedkar got some 365,000 of low-caste Hindus, including himself (then known as Harijans, now renamed Dalits) to convert to Buddhism on 14th October 1956 in protest against the mistreatment of the so-called low-castes by higher caste Hindus. Enemy of thy enemy being thy friend, ASA teamed up with Kashmiri rebels and the so-called Maoist sympathizers in the University. .
On 3rd August 2015, Rohit and four other activists of the ASA held a demonstration against the hanging of Yakub Memon who was executed four days earlier on 30th July 2015. ( Click here to See my blog on the political murder done after 21 years of incarceration of the man here ). There was an altercation in the University between the RSS-affiliated (of Hindutva fame) Akhil Bharat Vidyarthy Parishad and Rohit’s ASA.
A member of the ABVP was admitted in hospital for appendicitis, but ABVP spread the rumour that the ASA students, led by Rohit had assaulted him. Although a medical report stated that there was no sign of any assault or bodily harm, the allegation stuck. Rohit’s scholarship stipen – his lifeline – was immediately suspended.
A timeline of the events that followed as published by Indian Express is as follows:
* On August 5, the university set up an inquiry against Rohith and four other ASA members, two days after they allegedly assaulted ABVP leader N Susheel Kumar.
* On August 17, Dattatreya wrote to HRD Minister urging action and claiming that the “Hyderabad University… has in the recent past, become a den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics”.
* After a series of flip-flops, the five were suspended in September. On December 17, the decision was upheld.
* On January 3, after the sanction was confirmed, the five moved out of their hostel rooms to a tent they set up inside the campus and began a “relay hunger protest”.
* On Sunday, police recovered a “suicide note” in the room where Rohith hanged himself. It read:
“I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster.”
29-year old Kanhaiya hails from a village in District Begusarai, Bihar. Members of his family proudly claim that they are supporters of the Communist Party of India
He came to New Delhi to appear for the Indian Administrative Service examination but ended up doing research on South Africa in the Jawaharlal Nehru University. A fiery orator and a natural leader, Kanhaiya was elected the President of the Students’ Union in the Jawaharlal University, representing the left-leaning All India Students’ Federation as opposed to his Joint secretary, Mr. Saurabh Kumar from the ABVP.
The meeting he convened on the 11th of February was for raising the issue of lower castes as demonstrated by the death of Rohit Vemula. In his emotion-charged speech Kanhaiya reiterated his faith in the Constitution of India, and democracy and decried the anti-national slogans raised on an earlier meeting held in the same venue on the 9th of February.
Kanhaiya is given to making emotional comments on the issues and interspersing his speeches with loud slogans, which his supporters echo after him. Although it is evident that he had no part in the slogans and issues raised on the meeting on 9th February, he was made to look involved by morphing of video recordings by ABVP as well as certain TV channels against which the Government of Delhi has filed suits.
The FIRST MEETING: 9th February 2015
On the third anniversary of Afzal’s hanging, this double-sided poster appeared on the premises of the University:
On the front page:
THE COUNTRY WITHOUT A POST OFFICE
THE STRUGGLE OF PEOPLE AGAINST POWER
IS STRUGGLE OF MEMORY AGAINST FORGETTING
And, on the reverse side,
AGAINST THE BRAHMANICAL COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE AGAINST THE JUDICIAL KILLING OF AFZAL GURU AND MAQBOOL BUTT, IN SOLIDARITY WITH STRUGGLE OF KASHMIRI PEOPLE FOR THEIR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO SELF DETERMINATION WE INVITE YOU FOR A CULTURAL EVENING OF PROTEST WITH POETS, ARTISTS, SINGERS, WRITERS, STUDENTS, INTELLECTUALS, CULTURAL ACTIVISTS. 9TH FEBRUARY THURSDAY 5 PM SABARMATI DHABBA.
THERE WILL ALSO BE AN ART EXHIBITION AND A PHOTO EXHIBITION OF THE OCCUPATION OF KASHMIR AND THE PEOPLE STRUGGLE AGAINST IT. WE INVITE EVERYONE TO JOIN US. IN PROTEST IN RAGE AGAINST THE OCCUPATION AND IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE VALIANT PEOPLE OF KASHMIR.
ANIRBAN, ANJALI, ANWESHA,ASWATI, BHAVANA, KOMAL,RAYAZ, RUBINA,UMAR, SMA
The language used suggests that it might have been written by someone with high-flung ideology, but a weird understanding of flowery English language. Note also that February 9, 2016 was not a Thursday, but a Tuesday. The police who was present at the venue (apparently on the invitation of the Vice Chancellor) stated that a number of outsiders were present.
In the event, a documentary on the life of Afzal Guru was screened (Click here to see the documentary on YouTube) ; slogans in praise of the condemned man were shouted. Evidently, violent slogans such as “India will break into pieces, God willing, God willing” and “Afzal, we are ashamed that your murderers are alive”.
Click here for a YouTube reproduction of the event and the shocking slogans
Slogans were also shouted praising Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged 31 years before.
A scuffle between the organizers and their ABVP opponents ensued. Unlike on occasions such as this, no property was damaged; no video showing the presence of Kanhaiya Kumar appeared at that point of time. Interestingly, ‘Breaking News’ by India News channel which staked a claim to the contrary did not show Kanhaiah Kumar participating in the slogans. Later in the evening, however, , Saurabh Kumar Sharma, Joint Secretary and an officer bearer of ABVP, displayed a video on TV. This video, and other video recordings as proof of Kanhaiah Kumar’s complicity in the ‘anti-national’ slogans etc. were established to be forged by Central Forensic Science Laboratory. An aide of the HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, was reported to be complicit in this forgery.(Click here for the report)
The documentary (click here for viewing the documentary) screened on February 9 mostly contained comments by eminent lawyers, authors, Prof. Geelani who was one of the accused but was let off, and even Hindu Swamis.
If the screening of this documentary were to be anti-national, then several eminent lawyers, writers, witnesses and Hindu swamis who appeared in the documentary should be treated as anti-national and punished for Sedition – a law enacted by the British in 1870 to perpetuate its rule over the sub-continent, incorporated into Section 124 A of the Indian Penal code. A literal imposition of this law will make it impossible for a democratic setup to function in a Country; the British annulled this law six years ago. The men and women, including prominent judges and lawyers, writers and social activists who appear in this documentary do criticize (and thereby cause disaffection) against multiple arms of the government – including the intelligence agencies, the investigators, and accuse the system that hangs undeserving men as infected and infested with communal frenzy.
Saurabh Sharma of ABVP complained that the occupants of a bus who was leaving the premises threatened to kill him if he blocked the bus. “I wanted the police to check their identities,” he explained,
An eye-witness account of the event of 9th February as reported by Hindustan Times can be read here.
Media, particularly the TV channels like India News (Hindi), gave wide publicity to the morphed video. Zee News added a childish poster “Pakistan Zindabad’ to the video recording whereupon the producer resigned in protest to the forgery. Moderator Deepak Chaurasia of India News conducted a “joint interview” with ABVP Joint secretary Saurabh Kumar of ABVP and Kanhaiya Kumar of AISF and President of JNU Students Union (apart from a couple of others). Chaurasia gave ample time to Saurabh to put up his case and produce a vague video on his mobile phone ostensibly showing Kanhaiah Kumar shouting slogans (later proved to be forged), but kept accusing Kanhaiya, hardly giving him a chance to explain his view point. This blatantly partisan interview can be found here (as of now).
All evidences show that Kanhaiya did not participate in the meeting of the 9th February. His presence at the venue was doubtful. The length to which the ABVP and the arms of the government, abetted by a section of the media had gone to create evidence against the man by morphing the recordings was explained by a digital expert in an India Today video.
Meeting on On 11th February, 2016
This meeting was called by Kanhaiya Kumar to partly clear his name of the accusation that he was part of the anti-national slogans shouted on the 9th, to emphasize his confidence in the Constitution of India and on the architect of the Constitution, Late Mr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. Suicide of Rohit Vemula and its reasons also figured in his speech.
(Click here to read an unedited version of the entire speech by Kanhaiya Kumar)
Kanhaiya accused RSS of being anti-national (starting with the fact that the BJP government of Haryana was trying to change the name of the Chandigarh International airport named after nationally honoured Martyr Bhagat Singh to that of one Mangal Sein, an RSS man who never rose beyond the status of a deputy Chief Minister of Haryana.As one would expect, the video recording of his emotional speech has been removed from the YouTube. Interspersed with the rhetoric, he raised slogans demanding Azadi’ (freedom) from
Interspersed with the rhetoric, Kanhaiya raised slogans demanding Azadi’ (freedom) from “bhukmari (hunger), freedom from ‘Sanghwad’ (ideology of RSS), freedom from feudalism, freedom from capitalism, freedom from Brahmanism, freedom from Manuwad (casteism) and so on.
Kanhaiya also mentioned Ambedkar, the chief architect of Indian Constitution, and the Ambedkar Students’ Association, to which Rohit Vemula belonged and was forced to commit suicide.
What was published, largely and post-haste, were the morphed videos and mixed voices (between the slogans raised on the 9th and the 11th) which was cause enough for infuriating those who were on the lookout for another scapegoat to demonstrate their brand of patriotism.
Kanhaiya was arrested largely on the basis of the morphed pieces of evidence and “Pakistan Zindabad” poster, the falsehood of which made the program producer resign in protest
FIRST INFORMATION FILED BY DELHI POLICE AGAINST KANHAIYA KUMAR
While Kanhaiya Kumar was being escorted to the courtroom he was attacked by a group of lawyers. He was kicked, slapped and punched. He was attacked a second time when he was kept in a room before the hearing. He was slapped by a “person in dark glasses” who was attending the hearing.
“I was attacked by this person sitting right in front of me. The police saved me,” the student leader told the judge. The accused man left the courtroom without being stopped by the police. The court instructed Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi to personally guarantee Mr Kumar’s safety. Mr Kumar was punched, kicked and dragged by the lawyers. “Our job is done,” they told the police, expressing great satisfaction, At that point of time, the policemen present took no action to save Kanhaiya Kumar. Commissioner Mr. Bassi boasted to the Press that he had enough evidence to put Kanhaiya Kumar in serious trouble.
Kanhaiya was medically examined inside the courtroom. A doctor said Mr Kumar had suffered abrasions on his nose, legs and face.
On hearing of the attacks on Kanhaiya , the Supreme Court sent a team of lawyers. The team spoke to Kanhaiya and reported that he had been terrorised. It was also reported in the press that a legislator attacked Kanhaiah and threatened, “If I had a knife, I’d kill you”
In his defence, Kanhaiya Kumar told the court that he condemned what happened at the event of 9th February and did not say anything that was anti-national. “I am an Indian. I have full faith in the Constitution as well as the judiciary of the country,” and .”Rohit Vemula is my icon, not Afzal Guru,” he told the court.
A member of the BJP Youth Wing issued an Islamic-style ‘fatwa’ offering Rupees Five hundred thousand to anyone who would cut off Kanhaiya’s tongue. To save face and avoid legal troubles, the party removed him from the membership.
A certain Adarsh Kumar, claiming to be a member of a “Purvanchal Sena’ stuck a poster outside the Press Club of India offering One million one hundred thousand rupees to anyone who kills Kanhaiya Kumar. He was arrested by the Police and charged under various sections of the Penal Code.
The lawyers who manhandled anc caused bodily harm to Kanhaiya were let off after a show of arrest. On the other hand, Kanhaiya was made to suffer in Jail for a fortnight before being given bail.
Delhi government announced legal action against three channels which aired doctored video.
Former actor and Member of Parliament Shatrughan Sinha praised Kanhaiya for his oratorial skill. Anupam Kher, another former film actor, newly awarded a ‘Padmabhushan ‘ by the Modi government (apart from a Padmashree in 2004, awarded by a government of the same party), made an accusative speech against Former Justice of the Supreme Court, Asok Ganguly for the latter’s talk on intolerance. . Listen to the speeches here. to judge the respective quality and relevance of Mr. Ganguly and Mr. Anupam Kher. Perhaps Mr. Kher was under the impression that Kanhaiya was the ring leader of the anti-India slogans raised on the 9th of February, or more possibly, he, like many others of the Hindutva Parade, found it convenient to assert so – the volume of evidence against the assumption notwithstanding. Shortly afterwards, in the Aap Ki Adalat” program, he told the anchor, Mr. Rajat Sharma, that the talk about fudging and morphing of videos etc. held no significance for him.
Rapes in Kashmir.
Kanhaiya’s assertion that rapes have taken place in Kashmir has been held as proof of his anti-national sentiment. The fact is that more than a few Indian Army personnel – officers and men – do act and behave as an occupying force in the valley. To cure a disease, one needs to recognize the existence of the disease. Every wrong action against our Kashmiri brethren and their women is bound to alienate them further from the rest of India. A Human rights Commission Report (Physicians for Human Rights) cite a number of instances of rape by soldiers in Kashmir within four years starting 1992.. To read this extensive, unbiased and disturbing Report, Click here.
Kanhaiya is currently on bail for six months against a surety of Rupees. 10,000.
A 15-year old girl challenged Kanhaiya for a debate. Her arguments sound inane and pedestrian (largely in praise of Mr. Modi), but some admirers compare her courage to that of Malala Yousufzai.
The ‘debate’ is yet to happen.
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