JNU students call off hunger strike after HC stays punishment

  • Soibam Rocky Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 14, 2016 01:31 IST
JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid on hunger strike at JNU in New Delhi. (HT Photo)

JNU students called off a 16-day hunger strike on Friday hours after the Delhi high court put on hold all disciplinary actions against Kanhaiya Kumar and others on the condition they immediately end the protest.

Jawaharlal Nehru University had on April 25 fined student union president Kumar R10,000 and rusticated Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya for a semester after a panel found them guilty of giving wrong information in organising an event during which anti-national slogans were allegedly shouted. Bhattacharya was also banned from the campus for five years.

“Following the court order, we have decided to call off the strike but our fight will continue till the vice-chancellor revokes the punishments,” JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid Shora said.

Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya were arrested in a sedition case a few days after the February 9 function commemorated the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, which set off campus unrest and a political storm.

The three, who are out on bail, and others went on hunger strike on April 29 to protest the punishments handed out to at least 17 students.

Read | High Court stays disciplinary action against JNU students

Granting them relief, justice Manmohan told them earlier in the day, “If you have confidence in us, you will withdraw everything (agitation).”

“Protection is conditional upon JNUSU complying with its undertaking that it will immediately withdraw the continuing strike and will not indulge in any further dharna, agitation or strike”.

The university, said the court, should reasonably “accommodate with the students and be alive to the students’ situation”.

No action would be taken against the students till their appeal was decided by the appellate authority, which is the led by the vice-chancellor.

Read | Parliamentary panel criticises JNU for ‘caste bias’ on campus

Offering further protection, the judge said in case of an adverse decision, no action would be taken against the students for two weeks, giving them enough time to challenge the decision in the court.

The court had squarely put the onus on Kumar to end the strike, as some of the lawyers said there were many student factions and it would be difficult to ensure that all of them agree to end the stir immediately.

“He (Kanhaiya) is the president of JNUSU and he has a following. If he will say no strike, then there should not be any strike there. I find the gentleman is quiet articulate. He has to assert himself,” the court said.

“JNU should be a normal place with no journalists hanging around there. Let them (students) study. They should not be wasting their time. Exams are going on,” said the court, disposing of a bunch of petitions filed by a group of students including Kanhaiya.

(With inputs from agencies)

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