Hyderabad: An alleged rightwing activist hurled a shoe at Kanhaiya Kumar when the JNU student leader was addressing a meeting here on Thursday.
The incident occurred at Sundraiah Vignan Kendram, as Kanhiaya Kumar was beginning his address at the seminar on constitutional rights.
The shoe thrower, identified as Pawan Kumar, an activist of right-wing outfit Goraksha Samithi, sitting among the audience when he stood up, raised slogans against the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) president and hurled the missile towards him on the dais. It, however, missed the target.
Before hurling the shoe, he questioned why Kanhaiya Kumar, who he alleged supports terrorists like Afzal Guru, was being allowed to share the stage. Activists of All India Students Federation (AISF) and others among the audience caught hold of the show thrower and roughed him even as Kanhaiya Kumar appealed for restraint.
Police intervened to take custody of the man. Continuing with his speech, Kanhaiya Kumar said that such incidents do not matter to him. “Do whatever you want to do, I am not the one to get scared. My way is the Gandhian way,” he said, adding that his is the fight for freedom of expression.
The student leader wanted to know at whose behest they are resorting to such acts.
Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on charges of sedition last month after anti-national slogans were allegedly raised during a meeting organised in memory of parliament attack convict Guru on JNU campus in New Delhi.
The 28-year-old reiterated that Rohith Vemula and not Afzal Guru is his role model.
Vemula, a Dalit research scholar of Hyderabad Central University (HCU), committed suicide in January due to alleged discrimination in the university. Police did not allow Kanhaiya Kumar to enter the Hyderabad University on Wednesday to address students and pay tributes to the late Vemula.
Speaking at the entrance of the university, he alleged that the government is trying to suppress the voice of students by using canes against them
On the second day of his visit to the city, Kanhaiya Kumar addressed a seminar and a news conference. He alleged that educational institutions are under attack.
“There is an allegation that we are doing politics. Are we doing politics or is the government doing politics,” he asked.
The student leader said the government had a pre-planned script to destroy autonomy of universities. “The precise work of universities and intellectuals is to promote critical thinking,” he said.
Citing examples of FTII, Aligarh University, Hyder Central University and JNU, Kanhaiya Kumar claimed that the campuses are becoming war zones.
He blamed the central government for blowing up the issue of “anti-national slogans” at JNU to divert attention from Vemula’s suicide and its aftermath.
“The struggle in JNU is an extension of the campaign in HCU for justice to Rohith Vemula. There is a similarity between HCU and JNU in the context of attack on autonomy of universities and fight of social justice,” he said.
He condemned police cane charge on students at the Hyderabad university in the name of internal security. He said the development agenda of the NDA government had taken a back seat and those criticising the government and those fighting for their rights were being branded “anti-nationals”.
“They have made Modi bhakti a synonym for Desh bhakti,” Kanhaiya Kumar said.
He vowed to fight for the introduction of a proposed “Rohith Act” that will make university officials legally liable for caste discrimination at universities. The JNU student leader said the dreams of Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh should be fulfilled by ensuring social justice to dalits, tribals and other deprived sections.
He later left for Vijayawada to address a meeting at a college there.