New Delhi: The Patiala house court in Delhi on Monday heard proceedings in the 2016 sedition case against former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, and seven others.
The chief metropolitan magistrate Pankaj Sharma directed the Delhi Police to give copies of chargesheet to former JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and nine others.
Umar Khalid is already in judicial custody for a speech made during the northeast Delhi riots. Kanhaiya is now a national council member of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Bhattacharya works for a Delhi-based think tank. The trio had spent several weeks in Tihar jail before securing bail in the sedition case.
The Telegraph described how “the trio had aged beyond their years, with strands of white hair, and the shadow of the case had prevented them pursuing teaching careers despite their having earned PhDs.”
As Khalid was being taken to the court by armed policemen, a journalist from a pro-government TV channel tried to question him, to which Khalid asked the reporter: “For how long will you do paid journalism?”
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While the three of them already got bail in the case, the other seven accused were also granted bail on Monday on a personal bond of Rs 25,000 and a surety of a like amount, the report added.
The other seven accused in the case include Aquib, Mujeeb, Umar Gul, Rayees Rasool, Basharat Ali, Khalid Basheer who were not arrested before filing of chargesheet, according to PTI.
The court has put up the matter for April 7 to scrutinise documents in the case.
On February 9, 2016, Khalid, Bhattacharya and others had organised a “poetry reading” session titled “The country without a post office”, after Agha Shahid Ali’s poem of the same name, to mark the third anniversary of the execution of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
In the session, which was violently disrupted by the RSS’s student arm, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Kanhaiya Kumar, who was then president of the JNU Students’ Union, along with others, was accused of chanting “anti-national” slogans.
The accused were also charged with offences under sections 124A (sedition), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 143 (punishment for being a member of an unlawful assembly), 149 (being a member of an unlawful assembly), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
A first information report (FIR) was registered on February 11, 2016 under sections 124A and 120B of the IPC against unidentified people at the Vasant Kunj (north) police station, following complaints from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Maheish Girri and the ABVP.
A probe ordered by the Aam Aadmi Party government in 2016 had found that several purported videos of the February 9 incident – which were telecasted on television channels and led to attacks outside the JNU campus – had been doctored. The probe also revealed that security guards at the university had given false testimonies implicating the students during an internal inquiry by the JNU administration.
(With inputs from PTI)