The Jawaharlal Nehru University rusticated students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya for a semester and fined union leader Kanhaiya Kumar Rs 10,000 on Monday, saying they disobeyed norms in organising an event where “anti-national” slogans were allegedly chanted.
Authorities rusticated a Kashmiri PhD student -- Mujeeb Gattoo – for two semesters and imposed an additional fine of Rs 20,000 on Khalid, a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Historical Studies.
Khalid, Bhattacharya and Kumar are out on bail after being arrested on sedition charges following a controversial February event in JNU commemorating Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, where “anti-national” slogans were allegedly chanted.
JNU students’ union (JNUSU) joint secretary Saurabh Sharma, the only ABVP member in the union and a PhD student in neuroscience, was fined Rs 10,000.
Names of Khalid, Bhattacharya and Gattoo will be taken off from university rolls for the period of rustication and they won’t be able to avail hostel facilities.
The university also barred Bhattacharya from the premises for five years starting July 25, 10 days after his rustication period ends. This means the final year PhD student at Centre for Historical Studies won’t be able to pursue any courses at JNU.
The university imposed financial penalties on 14 other students and said two former students won’t be allowed to enter the premises.
The students’ arrests in February triggered a wave of protests that catapulted the students to national limelight with the media live-telecasting speeches of Kumar – a PhD student at the Centre for African Studies.
The controversy also galvanised the Opposition that accused the government of attempting to muzzle dissent.
A high-level university committee found the application for the February 9 event “circumvented” the “permission process” and “the organisers disobeyed the instructions from the administration” not to hold it and that amounted to “willful defiance”.
Officials said disciplinary measures were taken for many charges including not following university procedures, providing misinformation, arousing communal, caste or regional feelings and creating disharmony among students.
But JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid Shora said the punishments were based on one-sided statements from ABVP members. “The committee was rejected in the university’s general body meeting also. We completely reject this farcical report as it is based on sheer vendetta and a biased enquiry,” she said.
JNU constituted a five-member high level inquiry committee to investigate the incident. The committee found some students guilty of violating disciplinary norms and disrupting communal harmony on campus.
“The incident in the JNU campus on 9 February 2016 involving some students to hold “Poetry Reading” event on the theme “A Country without a Post Office” did not have the approval of the administration and as it was alleged later some participants in the event indulged in objectionable sloganeering,” the university said in a statement.
It said the committee arrived at its conclusion based on “depositions, perusal of video clips (provided by JNU security and authenticated by forensic tests), and examination of documents on record.
Hostel facilities were withdrawn for former JNUSU president Ashutosh Kumar for one year and the campus made “out of bounds” for two former students.
Aishwarya Adhikari, whose name was not mentioned in the committee’s eight-page report given to students, was fined R 20,000, along with JNUSU general secretary Rama Naga, Anant Prakash Narayan and Gargi Adhikari.