A scuffle broke out in Patiala Court on Monday afternoon as Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students union president Kanhaiya Kumar who was arrested on sedition charges last week was produced in court. The court ruled that Kumar will stay in custody for two more days.
Men wearing lawyers’ robes snatched reporters’ phones and notebooks and pushed them to the ground, accusing them of being “pro-Pakistan” and “anti-Indian”. Woman constables too were asked to come inside to the courtroom to ensure that JNU faculty and students were taken out of the premises.
Local media accused police of doing little to stop Monday’s chaos, amid claims on social media that right-wing Hindu nationalists were behind the violence.
BJP leader OP Sharma denied taking part. He told reporters he was only “rounding up those who raise pro-Pakistan slogans” outside the court.
Speaking before the violence, Delhi police commissioner BS Bassi defended Kumar’s arrest, saying there was evidence to back a sedition charge.
While the teachers on Sunday extended solidarity with the students over the issue, they have not joined the strike yet. Vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar appealed to the students to not resort to strikes and protests so that academic functioning of the university is not hampered.
“We also stand for free expression of ideas but I believe there is no need for strikes as the problem can be solved amicably. We are reaching out to the entire JNU community to see how the problem can be addressed but academic functioning of the university is of prime importance and should not be hampered,” he told reporters.
While the teachers association of the university have raised questions over the V-C allowing a police crackdown on campus, Kumar said he was bound with the “law of land”.
“I never invited the police to enter the campus and pick our students. We only provided whatever cooperation was needed as per the law of land. We were bound to do so,” he added.
JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested last week in connection with a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy registered over holding of the event at the varsity during which anti-India slogans were alleged to have been raised. His arrest has triggered widespread outrage among students and teachers and drawn severe criticism from non-BJP political parties.
The university teachers had on Sunday rallied behind its protesting students and questioned the administration’s decision to allow the police crackdown on the campus even as they appealed to the public not to “brand” the institution as “anti-national”.
Teachers bodies of 40 central universities and Pune-based FTII had also come out in support of the agitating students saying it is an issue of “indiscipline” and not “sedition”.
(With agency inputs)