Kolkata: Slamming the Narendra Modi government over the JNU row, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Wednesday said police crackdown on the students was a shame for the country.
“We have seen that there had been nothing anti-national in the speech of (JNU) students’ leader Kanhaiya Kumar. We will have to rethink if we are really independent,” Chatterjee said at a meet by 17 mass, rights and cultural organizations here.
“The government at the centre is indulging in dividing the people on the basis of religion. It is a shame for the country what happened at the JNU campus. The time has come for us to think if we are going to take everything sitting,” Chatterjee, the expelled CPI-M leader.
Chatterjee also attacked the state BJP, which had criticised the Jadavpur University (JU) for not acting against a section of students who had allegedly raised slogans in favour of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
“It becomes clear what the intentions of the BJP are. It is also disheartening that even after making such a statement in media, the Mamata Banerjee government has not come out with any strong statement opposing it,” Chatterjee said, referring to state BJP president Dilip Ghosh calling JU vice-chancellor Suranjan Das a “Trinamool Congress appointee”.
Speaking on the occasion, former Supreme Court judge A.K. Ganguly called on to fight against the BJP’s bid to “talibanise” the education system.
“It is the Talibanisation of education system which cannot be tolerated. There should be a united fight against this attack on the democratic system of the country,” said Ganguly, who blamed the RSS affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad for the JNU row.
The speakers also questioned the legality of the arrest of JNU students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar who has been charged with sedition.
“Even for arguments’ sake, if it is accepted that the alleged slogans had been chanted during Kumar’s speech, even then, he cannot be legally booked for sedition,” said lawyer and former city mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.