New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University roared with slogans as students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar — arrested for sedition 20 days ago — delivered a stirring speech after being released from the Tihar Jail on Thursday, saying he wanted “freedom within India”.
Kumar, who returned to the university campus amid celebrations by hundreds of students and teachers, took on the Prime Minister, saying “Modiji only says ‘mann ki baat’, but doesn’t listen to it”
As the sprawling Jawaharlal Nehru University campus was enveloped in darkness after street lights mysteriously went off before Kanhaiya Kuamr’s return, slogan-shouting students massed in the open holding flaming torches and carrying placards and posters hailing the student leader.
In his speech, which was peppered with quips over his time in jail, Kumar said he never asked for freedom from India, but freedom within India. “We want ‘azaadi’ from people who are looting the country.”
“I come from a village. Where there are a magic shows. People show magic and sell rings that fulfill all wishes…We have some people like that in our country, who say black money will come back, sabka saath sabka vikas (development for all),” Kumar said in his veiled dig at the Modi-led government.
“We Indians forget too soon but this time the ‘tamasha’ is too big and these ‘jumlas’ won’t be forgotten,” he said to a loud cheer. “We don’t look at ABVP as an enemy. We look at them as opposition,” he added.
Kumar said we wouldn’t comment on the case against him as the matter was sub-judice.
Read: Kanhaiya Kumar released from jail, says will write his story now
Kumar ended his speech with slogans of freedom from hunger and corruption.
“We are all relaxed that Kanhaiya is back but the fight is far from over,” PhD student Priyanka Das told IANS, summing up the general mood in the student community.
“We will maintain the solidarity till Anirban (Bhattacharya) and Umar (Khalid) are back and safe,” she added, referring to the two other student activists who too are in jail on sedition charges.
The February 12 arrest of Kumar, the first president of the JNU Students Union from the CPI-affiliated AISF, was widely denounced, more so after he was beaten up in a Delhi court on two days by some lawyers.
Delhi Police kept claiming that they had irrefutable evidence that Kumar had raised anti-national slogans but failed to come up with the evidence in the court, weakening their case.
On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court gave a six-month interim bail to the jailed student leader but made wide-ranging observations on issues such as nationalism and love for the country that were quickly lapped up by the establishment and denounced by legal experts as unwarranted.
Judge Pratibha Rani told Kanhaiya Kumar to ensure that no “anti-national” activity took place in the JNU.