Beyond Kanhaiya: 10 people involved in the JNU sedition row

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 18, 2016 19:43 IST
A look at ten persons involved in the JNU controversy. (AP)

The Jawaharlal Nehru University is caught in a row over an event against the hanging of a Parliament attack convict. Anti-national slogans were allegedly shouted at the February 9 programme.

While the students union president Kanhaiya Kumar is out on bail in a sedition case, two other students - Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya - who were in judicial custody were granted interim bail for six months on Friday .

Here is a look at ten people involved in the controversy.

Afzal Guru was convicted of plotting and providing logistic support to the five Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists who stormed Parliament on December 13, 2001. Nine people were killed in the attack.

Read: JNU students Umar Khalid, Anirban get bail in sedition case

On February 9, 2016, a group of JNU students organised a cultural evening to express ‘solidarity with struggle of Kashmiri people for their democratic right to self determination’.

The event was held despite university authorities cancelling the permission for it, after members of RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) complained to the vice-chancellor.

Students clashed near the Sabarmati Dhaba on the JNU campus. The university ordered an inquiry.

The BJP MP met DCP (south) Prem Nath and filed a complaint, saying the JNU event was anti-national and unconstitutional. “Strict action should be taken against the offenders so that such shameful and anti-India activities are not repeated,” Girri said.

Kanhaiya Kumar, is a member of the All India Students Federation (AISF). He was born and brought up in a village called Bihat in Begusarai, Bihar. After completing post graduation he joined JNU to do PhD in African studies at the School of International Studies. He became the first AISF member to be president of the JNU students’ union.

The 30-year-old Kumar, first entered the row when he spoke to reporters on February 11 and denied that anti-national slogans were raised by members of Left organisations or JNU students.

Kumar said he was not one of the organisers of the event but was present because he anticipated clashes. Delhi police claimed Kumar not only participated in the event but had ‘actually organised’ the programme.

Police arrested Kumar on February 12 over sedition charges. Mobs of lawyers attacked Kumar on February 17 when he was brought to court to face sedition charges. He was sent to judicial custody till March 2.

On February 18 Kumar moved the Supreme Court seeking bail. In his plea, Kumar said he “perceives a threat to his life in prison where there is great likelihood of an attack on him by his co-prisoners”. Next day Supreme Court refused to entertain his bail plea.

Kumar was granted interim bail by a Delhi court for six months on March 2.

Kumar delivered a rousing speech on March 3 to fellow students and teachers on the campus, saying he stood for “freedom in India” and not “freedom from India”, setting social media abuzz.

He is out on bail.

Read more on Kanhaiya

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He resigned from DSU a few months before the controversy. He has been in JNU for the past 8 years. He was born in Bihar but his family stays in Delhi. He played in the Delhi Cricket Academy under-12 team but an ankle injury ended his dreams of playing for the country. Khalid wanted to be a journalist and report from the tribal areas of the country.

He went missing after Kumar was arrested. The Delhi Police accelerated their search on February 17 to arrest Khalid. Police claimed that Khalid ‘absconded’ after sedition charges were pressed.

Khalid ‘returned’ to JNU campus on February 21. “My name is Umar Khalid and I’m not a terrorist,” said Khalid and insisted that he never absconded. He also refuted claims that he made 800 calls to ‘Gulf or Kashmir’ a few days before the programme was organised.

Khalid surrendered on February 23 and was taken to South Campus RK Puram police station.

On March 1, the court had sent Umar to judicial custody.

Khalid was granted interim bail by a Delhi court for six months on March 18.

Read more on Khalid

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He has been in the JNU for the past 9 years. Hailing from Kolkata, Anirban moved to Delhi in 2004. He completed his MA and MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he is believed to have been influenced by the ideology of the ultra-left Democratic Students Union (DSU). However, he resigned from the organisation a few months back.

He too allegedly ‘absconded’ after a sedition case was registered.

He ‘resurfaced’ on the JNU campus along with Khalid and surrendered on February 23.

On March 1, the court sent Anirban to judicial custody. He was granted interim bail by a Delhi court for six months on March 18.

Soon after his arrest in 2001, Geelani was acquitted for “need of evidence” by the Delhi High Court in October 2003. The decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in August 2005, which at the same time observed that suspicion pointed towards him.

Police booked Delhi University professor SAR Geelani on February 12 under charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy. They claimed that Geelani was booked as he was presumed to be the “main organiser” of the Press Club event.

Geelani was arrested on February 16 under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly).

On February 18, he was sent to judicial custody till March 3. The 46-year-old professor also moved a bail application through his lawyer.

A Delhi court on February 19 dismissed his bail.

In September 2015, Shehla Rashid Shora won the election for vice-president’s post of JNUSU as a nominee of the Left-backed All-India Students’ Association defeating Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s Valentina Brahma. The 27-year-old MPhil student at JNU’s Centre for Law and Governance spearheaded the protests against Kumar’s arrest. She is the first Kashmiri student to hold a post in the students’ union. Shehla hails from Srinagar’s Habba Kadal locality, the hub of Kashmir’s political turmoil for more than two decades. Her mother — a nurse in Srinagar’s SK Institute of Medical Sciences — and elder sister live back home.

Shehla came under the spotlight for the first time on February 14, when a 14-minute video surfaced, showing her giving a speech to a gathering of protesting students after the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar. The fierce speech followed a protest march by over 3,000 people on JNU campus.

More on Rashid

Cornered on the Left: Questioning JNU student leader Shehla Rashid

Shehla Rashid, firebrand Kashmiri, leading JNU students’ fightback

On February 14, Singh said the JNU event drew support from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed, who India alleges was the brains behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Bassi defended the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, saying the student leader raised anti-national slogans during a controversial event on the campus. He also said that the student leader will also be interrogated for terror links.

On February 18, he said Kanhaiya Kumar was not assaulted in the Patiala House courts and that rampaging lawyers did not warrant detention.

On February 19 a petition filed in the Delhi high court accusing Bassi of “influencing” the probe.

On February 22 termed the questioning of journalists in the JNU case as a routine affair.

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