Was JNU sedition case ‘based’ on a TV report?

  • Prawesh Lama, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 18, 2016 08:08 IST
Activists of Campus front of India shout slogans in New Delhi. (HT Photo/Arun Kumar)

The sedition case against Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar appears to be an afterthought, relying mostly on a TV report.

When the station house officer (SHO) of a nearby police station visited the JNU campus on February 9, he saw students at an evening rally commemorating the anniversary of the execution of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist.

Students were accused of shouting anti-India slogans and making incendiary remarks at the event.

But the police officer didn’t find anything wrong at the rally that warranted an immediate FIR. He also had a word with his staff and intelligence officers present there.

The next day, police filed an FIR after watching a Zee TV report that showed Kumar at the function. They sought clippings from the channel before filing the case.

Also, a police intelligence inspector’s report said leaders of the ultra-radical Democratic Students Union (DSU), including linchpin Umar Khalid, had gathered and shouted slogans.

Kumar was mentioned once: “it is learnt that students who were present in the protest were Kanhaiya Kumar…”

Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi is telling reporters about “irrefutable proof” against Kumar but the FIR doesn’t accuse him of making any hate speech. He is charged with leading a procession in which anti-India slogans were heard.

Police said they saw in the Zee News video Khalid and “others” give speeches. They apparently shouted: “Afzal ki hatya nahin sahengay. Kitni Afzal marogey, har ghar mein Afzal rehta hai. Ghar ghar se Afzal niklengay. … haq hamara aazadi, leke rahengay aazadi. Pakistan zindabad (we won’t tolerate Afzal’s murder. How many Afzals will you kill? He lives in every house. Freedom is our right and we will take it).”

The SHO was making the rounds after JNU authorities forwarded a complaint by an ABVP leader against a group putting up anti-India posters in the university.

The complaint didn’t mention Kumar but specifically named Khalid, associated with the DSU and presently on the run.

The ABVP, the student wing of the RSS, warned of possible unrest during the event, called A Country Without A Post Office.

The FIR said the ABVP leader alerted the university’s security officer about a proposed protest by Khalid and nine students against hanging of Guru and Maqbool Bhatt, another Kashmiri separatist.

Another report on Zee News, a day after the JNU incident, prompted police to arrest former Delhi University professor SAR Geelani for sedition. He is accused of shouting anti-India slogans at an event at the Press Club on February 10. Police said the investigating officer was informed by the Parliament Street station house officer about the Zee News report.

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