A sedition case was lodged against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and six others in Hyderabad on Sunday, deepening a row over alleged anti-national speeches at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University that has seen violent protests and fractious Parliament sittings in recent days.
A first information report (FIR) was registered at Saroornagar police station under Cyberabad police commissionerate on the direction of a metropolitan magistrate, who was urged to book the nine people by a group of lawyers.
Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Ajay Maken, CPI leader D Raja, JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi, JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and JNU research scholar Umar Khalid are the others named in complaint.
“It is a court-referred matter. Following the court’s directive, a case under section 124A of the IPC (sedition) has been registered yesterday (Saturday) against nine persons, including Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Sitaram Yechury, JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and others,” Saroornagar Police station inspector S Lingaiah said on Sunday.
The court has posted the matter for hearing on March 4. It passed the orders for the FIR on a complaint by Janardhan Goud and two other lawyers, who moved the court after police refused to register the case.
They alleged that anti-India slogans were raised during a protest organised at JNU on Feb 9 against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
They also complained that on Feb 13 Rahul Gandhi and other leaders visited the Jawaharlal Nehru University to support of the students who had participated in protests against the nation.
“These students and leaders like Rahul Gandhi, D Raja and others are violating the Constitution by supporting the anti-nationals,” said the petitioner.
Kanhaiya and Khalid have been arrested by Delhi police. It was Kanhaiya’s arrest that sparked nationwide protests and outrage from the Bharatiya Janata Party’s rivals — especially the parties of Gandhi, Yechury and Kejriwal — who said the Union government was cracking down on free speech.
In the days since the arrest on February 12, doubts have emerged over the authenticity of the video footage, which was the basis for the original complaint of sedition against the students.
In his petition, Goud said he has every right to question those who are indulging in “anti-national activities and also those who are encouraging anti-nationals in the name of solidarity for those who are facing criminal charges under section 124(A) of IPC.”