Uniting across party lines and keeping aside their political differences, students and teachers at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Sunday held each other’s hands in solidarity and formed a human chain almost 4-km long.
As the students and teachers stood holding hands from the main gate of the campus to the Chandrabhaga hostel only one slogan resonated in the air — “Free our president Kanhaiya Kumar”.
Kumar was arrested by the Delhi Police on Friday on grounds that he was a part of the event, held on the campus against the hanging of Afzal Guru on February 9, where certain students had raised anti-India slogan. Police had detained few more students on Saturday, who were later released.
To press for Kumar’s release, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) has called for a strike in JNU on Monday.
Teachers from other universities had also gathered to express solidarity with the students. They shouted slogans against the government and the police for arresting Kumar.
“The arrest of JNUSU president is just an attempt by the government to destroy the student movement of JNU. The government which ‘killed’ Rohith Vemula should not teach us nationalism,” said Ishan Anand, a student and member of the Democratic Students Federation (DSF).
Most protesters said the crackdown on JNU was only an attempt by the government to divert people’s attention from Rohith Vemula’s case.
The students said they will intensify the movement till Kumar is released and police withdrawn from the campus. On Sunday, however, there was no police presence on the campus.
“Our university stands for debate and discussion, we will not let a fascist government trample this autonomy of ours,” said Pratik, a student of the university.
There were hardly any students from the opposition camp. The handful of those present, stood by the side and watched silently.
Meanwhile, ABVP filed a police complaint over the video that purportedly shows students from the organisation raise pro-Pakistan slogan. No FIR has been registered.