Dissent

We Are a Day Away from a Small-Time Politician’s Threat to Kill Kanhaiya but Delhi Police Won’t Act

A Meerut-based politician has threatened to shoot the JNU student leader on March 31. So why hasn’t action been taken against him yet?

Kanhaiya Kumar was attacked by lawyers while being escorted into court. Credit: NDTV screengrab

Kanhaiya Kumar was attacked by lawyers while being escorted into the Patiala house courts on February 17. Credit: NDTV screengrab

New Delhi: Ever since he was charged and arrested with sedition in February, JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar has had to face all sorts of violence. His troubles seem far from over, however. Most recently, a Meerut-based politician has threatened to shoot him on the JNU campus if he does not leave the national capital by the end of March.

Threat to kill apparently serious

What makes this “ultimatum” of Amit Jani, who has been associated with the Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena, serious, is the fact that in the past he has always carried out his threats.

As Jani himself told The Wire, “I have not made a hundred commitments in my life. There have been just about four, but every time, I have stood by my word.”

He proceeded to elaborate: “Whether it was about vandalizing Mayawati’s statues, or not allowing Rahul Gandhi to speak at Meerut in 2009 for a full half hour, as he had called the people of U.P. ‘beggars,’ I have stood by each promise, and have even gone to jail as a result. I opposed Shiv Sena when it attacked North Indians in Maharashtra. We attacked their offices and nearly 20 FIRs were filed against us. I also opposed Azam Khan on several issues.”

Jani is clear about what he wants to do. On March 28, he made his threat public through a Facebook post. It stated:

“There are just four days left in the ultimatum of leaving Delhi. Tell us, countrymen, should we get them bombed? All preparations have been made. Boys are ready and so are the weapons! We will do it silently, without any information so that they do not disappear like Owaisi… I swear it on Maa Bhagwati, I would leave politics if I am unable to get them shot in JNU.”

On the same day, Facebook blocked Jani’s page with the message – “The page you requested cannot be displayed right now. It may be temporarily unavailable, the link you clicked on may be broken or expired, or you may not have permission to view this page.”

Even so, Jani’s post received over a thousand likes and comments and was shared widely.

And despite its content and popularity, the Delhi Police has not taken cognizance of the threat.

When asked why the police have not taken suo motu cognizance of the threat to kill the student leader, an officer at the Vasant Kunj North police station said that he had received no complaint, and added that the police would only be able to act if a complaint was lodged.

For his part, Jani insisted that while Kanhaiya was charged with sedition and arrested for the developments on the JNU campus on February 9, no action has been taken against him for criticising the Indian army and allegedly speaking against the goddess Durga. He told The Wire: “They have not even registered a case in these matters and I want to avenge this mistake. I have threatened to shoot Kanhaiya unless he leaves Delhi by March 31.”

Shedding light on his state of mind, Jani further said that he has been troubled by the developments over the past few years and has now lost interest in his business and family.  “When anti-national slogans were raised in JNU, I felt what was going on in the country. I am an ordinary man. I am a stupid aam aadmi. I feel angry. I am very sensitive. I become happy and sad at small incidents,” he explained. “So I wrote about it on Facebook.”

Asked why he wants to take the law into his own hands, Jani responded: “The key difference between me and those who do not have faith in the system is that after this shootout, I will not run, I will not hide. I will not run away from the judicial process. I will face the case.”

Clearly oblivious to the consequences of his actions, Jani said: “I am prepared to go to jail. Sher Singh Rana killed Phoolan Devi and admitted to the crime. So will I. The issue is not of my organisation. I know that if there is a shootout in JNU then I will go to jail … I will be booked for either murder or attempt to murder.”

Violence against Kanhaiya began in the Patiala House courts

Ever since he was arrested for sedition in February, Kanhaiya has had to face violence from right-wing vigilantes.

The first attack on Kanhaiya took place on February 16 in the Patiala House courts premises, by lawyers both inside and outside the courtroom, including a BJP legislator.

A few days after this attack on February 22, a sting by a news channel captured three lawyers confirming that they had indeed assaulted Kanhaiya Subsequently, on February 27, another video emerged, this time filmed by advocate Haren Rawal, who was part of the team sent by the Supreme Court on February 17 to assess the situation at Patiala House courts. In Rawal’s video, Kanhaiya claimed that one of the lawyers who had attacked him inside the courtroom was allowed by the police to leave.

Though the video footage of the Patiala House courts attack shows several lawyers attacking Kanhaiya, the police have acted against only three of them so far. Two of these three lawyers, furthermore, were arrested only after the sting that showed them bragging about their assault on Kanhaiya was released.

Outlandish rewards for harming Kanhaiya

Following the release of Kanhaiya from Tihar Jail on March 2, some small-time politicians issued a reward to anyone who could physically harm him.

Kuldeep Varshney, a Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leader in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh to anyone cutting off Kanhaiya’s tongue. Varshney was subsequently suspended for six years from the primary membership of the party.

On March 5, posters that read – “Whosoever shoots JNU Students’ Union president and seditionist Kanhaiya will be rewarded Rs. 11 lakh on the behalf of Purvanchal Sena,” were found pasted on a wall near Press Club of India and at bus stops and metro stations in New Delhi. They carried the mobile number and name of Adarsh Sharma, and identified him as the president of Purvanchal Sena.

Curiously, the Delhi police initially thought of charging him with only  “defacement of public property.”

Two days later, on March 7, they arrested Adarsh Sharma and booked him on charges of abetment of an offence, punishable with imprisonment; public mischief; criminal intimidation and forgery. The police said that Sharma had put out the posters to gain publicity, as he had not received any media attention when he contested the elections for the Purvanchal Mahapanchayat. Earlier, he had also contested the assembly election from Nangloi Jat in West Delhi.

Interestingly, Sharma offered a reward of Rs 11 lakh but had only Rs 150 in his bank account at the time, and also owed several months’ rent to his landlord.

Jani’s threat latest in a long series

On March 10, Kanhaiya was manhandled and abused at the JNU administrative block by a man who accused him of being a traitor and “anti-Army.” The man, identified as Vikas Chaudhary, a resident of Ghaziabad in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, later said he wanted to “teach Kanhaiya a lesson” for, allegedly abusing the army, accusing soldiers of committing rapes in Jammu and Kashmir, raising anti-India slogans and supporting anti-nationals.

Then, two weeks later, on March 24, Kanhaiya was attacked in Hyderabad while there to protest against the return of the vice-chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, Appa Rao. This time a piece of footwear was hurled at him by a cow protection activist, Naresh Kumar, just before he was about to address a conference. Fortunately for Kanhaiya, the slipper missed its mark.

Through all these attacks and threats, Kanhaiya has put up a brave face. But, naturally, his family have been concerned about his safety. On March 8, Kanhaiya’s grandfather Bal Krishna Singh moved a court in Begusarai district of Bihar demanding action against Adarsh Sharma and Kuldeep Varshney.

With Jani’s threat looming large and the Delhi Police still not acting on it, Kanhaiya and his supporters have no option but to fend for themselves.

  • Rama Krishna

    Amit Jani’s despicable expression is a more crass, oafish and vulgar version of Kanhaiya Kumar’s. Super-Marxist versus Marxist (talk about a despicable ideological complexity!). Amit and Kanhaiya both exist on fringes of the harmonic culture that qualifies traditional Indian society and its Constitutional free-speech rights. The government should watch both of them to make sure neither performs or inspires acts of physical violence.