An atmosphere of fear prevailed at Jawaharlal Nehru University on Friday, even as present and former teachers of the institute came out in support of students saying the situation on the campus was no less than the emergency.
As soon as the news of JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest spread on the campus, students and teachers started gathering around vice-chancellor’s office. There was heavy police deployment outside the university main gate and only students with identity cards were allowed inside.
“The only previous occasion when the president of the JNUSU was arrested was during Emergency, and the present situation on the campus brings back those memories,” said former teachers and deans in a statement.
Students said that heavy police deployment on the campus has increased their tension. “I feel safer standing here in front of the V-C office rather than being in my hostel. Girls hostels are being raided by police. It is scary. We are just students,” said a female PhD student, who did not wish to be named.
Students disassociated themselves from the alleged anti-national slogans raised at the institute and blamed outsiders for it.
“Nobody from JNU will raise such slogans. Those who organised the event were formerly part of the ultra left party. Nobody supports them. It is wrong to target all JNU students. Kanhaiya Kumar is the president and he had gone there to control the situation, but now he has been arrested,” said a student from School of Arts and Aesthetics
Earlier in the day, residents from nearby areas including Munirka staged a protest outside the main gate of the institute and demanded action against students allegedly involved in anti-national activities.
Meanwhile, ABVP also held a demonstration at India Gate against an event on Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru held at the institute recently. “Students across party lines are protesting against what happened at JNU. Strict actions should be taken against anti-national students,” said Saurabh Kumar, joint secretary JNUSU and ABVP member.
MP D Raja also visited the campus and met the V-C. “The V-C and registrar know their students better and should stand by its students,” he said.
JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid Shora said, “With this one act they have clamped down on all the campaigns. JNUSU and some of the left parties have already condemned the incident. How can Kanhaiya be arrested for sedition. This witch-hint needs to stop,” she said.