The arrest of JNU student’s union president Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition has attracted both criticism and support in equal measure, with Saturday seeing the controversy surrounding the institute snowballing into a political free-for-all.
Twitter also reacted sharply to the ongoing controversy, with some denouncing the application of sedition on a perceived slight against the nation, while others condemned Kumar and his fellow students as hailing from “a breeding ground of anti-nationalism.”
Yogendra Yadav, an alumnus of JNU and one of the leaders of the Swaraj Abhiyan, described the unity shown by the student body in protesting Kumar’s arrest as “moving”.
Where'd you find students& teachers, ex&present from diff parties&ideologies unite to defend idea of a Univ?— Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) February 13, 2016
Saw this at #JNU today.
Others condemned the Union government for invoking the archaic law of sedition.
Govts of grown-ups don't get knee-jerked into invoking sedition for stupid slogans, raiding campuses to arrest unarmed students #JNU— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) February 12, 2016
#ShutDownJNU & Kanhaiya Kumar arrest is wildly disproportionate. His video does not show him threatening India at all! Facts before arrests?— Shoma Chaudhury (@ShomaChaudhury) February 13, 2016
The Opposition likened the charges as being akin to the Emergency period, while the ruling BJP accused them of speaking the language of Pakistani terrorists.
Dear Sangh parivaar, targetting the 'leftist' JNU by playing the Afzal Guru card is all set to backfire against the govt. #JNUCrackdown— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) February 13, 2016
We live in a time where the RSS whose member assasinated Mahatma Gandhi will now give us lessons in patriotism. #JNUCrackdown— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) February 13, 2016
But there were equally damning comments from those who supported the government’s decision to arrest the JNUSU president, as well as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to stand in solidarity with the student body on Saturday.
#JNUCrackdown RG' choices: hide rather than stand with Nirbhaya rape student protestors but run to incite anti-national sentiments.— Shalini Singh (@shaliniscribe) February 14, 2016
Kumar has been accused of organising a public meet at the university campus on February 9. Police case states the meeting was about hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted in the Parliament Attack case, and during the course some persons including Kumar raised “incendiary slogans.”
Under the colonial era law anybody who “by words – either spoken or written - brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government” can be sent to jail for life.