Photo feature by Shome Basu
New Delhi: Nearly 15,000 people from colleges, universities and civil society today took out a march here to protest the police action at JNU and demanded immediate release of the varsity’s students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is facing sedition charges.
Holding placards bearing sharp messages and shouting slogans like “Long Live JNU”, the protesters marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar.
A huge number of them held roses in their hands and raised them in the air in unison at the start of the march and let out a huge defiant cry. Besides students, alumni and faculty of JNU and other universities such as DU, Jamia Milia Islamia and Ambedkar University Delhi, eminent academicians, journalists, theatre and film personalities also participated in the protest.
“JNU has been built with lot of love and lot of care. Our campus allows different voices, and we believe in debating with civility, of accommodating other people’s opinion even if we disagree with them. What has been done to Kanhaiya and the way police has been allowed to crack down on our university is completely unacceptable, and we will not take things lying down. We stand in solidarity with Kanhaiya, and demand his immediate release,” a JNU student said.
Alleging being subject to “witch-hunting “and “media trial”, the refrain among the protesters was that JNU had to be saved from “right-wing forces imposing their ideologies” on a liberal institution.
Swaraj Abhiyan member Yogendra Yadav, denouncing the crackdown on the varsity campus, alleged that “the Centre wants to make an example of JNU to further their own right-wing agenda in the country.”
“JNU has been built with a certain vision and this crackdown was just a pretext to target the entire university.
JNU was built with an idea, and that idea was intrinsically linked to the idea of India, of democracy. And, now an attempt is being made by them to destroy that idea,” he said.
23-year-old Anila, who graduated from JNU in 2015, said, “The government completely mishandled the issue, and the university too failed to sort out the matter their end, which is how it should have been done.”
Asima Mukhtar, 24, a Ramjas College student, who joined the protest along with some of her friends, said, “It doesn’t matter we are DU or some other university. We stand by JNU in this tough time and we stand by Kanhaiya, who has been slapped with sedition charges, something using during colonial-era to suppress voices of resistance.”
Text by PTI