New Delhi: With posters of “Rohith ka JNU” plastered across the walls of the varsity, the students and teachers are eagerly waiting for the students union president Kanhaiya Kumar to be back on campus from Tihar jail where he is in custody in connection with a sedition case.
The varsity students including Kanhaiya himself were agitating demanding justice for Rohith Vemula, a Dalit research scholar, who committed suicide at Hyderabad Central University, when a row erupted over holding of an event against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru where anti-India slogans were allegedly raised.
“The government recognised us as voices of dissent as we came in support of the students agitating at FTII and then we made death of Rohith Vemula a national issue. Kanhaiya himself was supposed to take part in a rally held last week for Rohith but those in power targeted him for the same reason,” said JNU Students Union’s vice president Shehla Rashid Shora.
“His bail plea has been deferred again and again and custody extended. We are hoping for Comrade Kanhaiya to be back on campus and join our movement against branding of the university as a den of anti-nationals,” she added.Delhi High Court will hear Kanhaiya’s bail plea tomorrow.
The administration block, where every evening the students gather to register their protest over the action against students and attend lectures on nationalism, still has posters of ‘Rohith Ka JNU’ and hoardings of “Justice for Rohith”. It is the same venue where the students, who love being called ‘comrades’, had started an indefinite hunger strike demanding justice for Vemula.
According to Sucheta De, former President JNUSU, the row is not just about Kanhaiya but also other students who have got caught in this “seditious politics”.
“The issue is not about sedition on campus, it is about the country’s politics being seditious. Be it Comrade Umar, Anirban, Ashutosh, Anant, Rama or any other student of the university who is targeted for raising his voice or expressing his thoughts. We just hope they are released soon and the democracy prevails in and outside the campus,” she said.
Kanhaiya Kumar, a PhD student, was arrested on February 12 in connection with the Afzal Guru event.
Members of the ABVP, the students front of RSS, had objected to the event and written to the Vice Chancellor against allowing it on the campus, prompting the university administration to order cancellation of the march as it “feared” that it might “disrupt” peace.
But the organisers went ahead with the programme despite withdrawal of permission and held a cultural programme, art and photo exhibition on the issue.
Five other students Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Ashutosh Kumar, Anant Prakash and Rama Naga, were wanted by the police in connection with the case. After being on the run for 10 days, they resurfaced on campus last Sunday.
While Umar and Anirban later surrendered, three others have communicated to police that they are open to questioning as and when required.
Academicians and scholars from across the globe including Noam Chomsky have come out in support of JNU students and condemned the police action against them.