Education

JNU Developments: Journalists Protest, BJP MP Says ‘Not All JNU is Anti-National’

Ex-JNU BJP supporters including MP Udit Raj say they support the university as a whole and don’t want its reputation tarnished, but believe “anti-national elements” should be found and punished

Journalists on Tuesday took out a march to protest the attacks on reporters by lawyers and BJP supporters at the Patiala House court on February 15. Credit: Shome Basu

Journalists on Tuesday took out a march to protest the attacks on reporters by lawyers and BJP supporters at the Patiala House court on February 15. Credit: Shome Basu

New Delhi: Under fire for the failure of the police to protect reporters and students from assault at the Patiala House court on Monday, Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi has described the attack, parts of which have been caught on camera, as a “minor scuffle”.

The attack, by lawyers and BJP members, took place while JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was to be presented in court on February 15. The police, witnesses say, remained mute spectators.

Kumar’s arrest, the police action on the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University and the violence at the court have been condemned by academics and students from over 40 universities across the country, international academics and intellectuals, and opposition parties.

Kumar was arrested on sedition charges, and his judicial remand has been extended till February 17. He has strongly denied the charges against him, with the support of experts who claim that the charges against him have no legal basis.

A plea at the Delhi High Court to hand this case over to the National Investigation Agency has been rejected, with the HC calling the plea ‘premature’.

BJP MP Udit Raj at press conference: “Not all of JNU is anti-national”

On Tuesday, a group calling themselves the ‘ex-JNUites Forum’, led by BJP MP Udit Raj, held a press conference in Delhi. The aim of this meet, they said, was to make it clear that not all of JNU is “anti-national”, it is only a “minuscule minority” that it politicising the event for political gain and interfering with the police investigation. They extended their support to the JNUSU Joint Secretary (an ABVP member) and the JNU Staff Association, who are “100% against the teachers’ strike”, according to Raj.

The group linked the controversial event on February 9 to “anti-India forces trying to create such situations in different campuses in the country”, and said that “this conspiracy should be fully exposed before the nation”. They want the “anti-national perpetrators” identified and brought to justice, so that the “reputation of JNU as a whole is not spoilt”.

Asked about the ‘ShutDownJNU’ hashtag doing the rounds amongst BJP, ABVP and RSS supporters on social media, Raj said that was not the view of the organisation as a whole. About the Patiala House Court violence, he said, “It was a very unfortunate incident. The law will take its course”, but refused to comment on the role of BJP MLA OP Sharma and other BJP and ABVP members in the matter. Though he said the “perpetrators should be charged with sedition”, he was also unwilling to talk about Kanhaiya Kumar, and claimed that he “did not think that Kumar had been charged with sedition”.

The group also said that this was not the first time that the police has worked at the same time as the internal enquiry of the university. Though they said they cannot comment on police actions such as raiding hostel rooms, they felt that the police should be “allowed to do their investigation” on campus.

Protests continue

Also on Tuesday, more than 300 journalists took out a march from the Press Club to the Supreme Court to protest the attacks at Patiala House Court and the failure of the police to intervene.

The JNU Teachers’ Association met with the Vice-Chancellor in the morning, where he agreed to withdraw the blanket permission police had been given to operate on campus. The teachers also raised questions on the three-member enquiry committee set up to look into the incident in JNU, saying that it did not follow due process. The inter-household administration and the provost committee, who are supposed to be called on disciplinary issues before an enquiry is set up, have also written letter to the VC asking why they were not approached.

Teachers have called for a university strike, and plan to take sit-in classes on ‘nationalism’ and what it means each evening on the lawns.

The main gate of the JNU campus had to be sealed again on Tuesday morning as protestors from the Bajrang Dal came to raise their voice against the “anti-nationals”, some of them breaking past police barricades.

SAR Geelani arrested for Press Club event

Delhi University lecturer SAR Geelani was arrested on Monday night on charges of sedition for being the “main organiser” of an event held at the Press Club on Afzal Guru’s death anniversary. Geelani was acquitted of involvement in the 2001 parliament attack case in 2003.

In the past few days, DU professors Ali Javed and Nirmalangshu Mukherji had been questioned by the Delhi Police on their involvement in the event.