Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar along with a group of students who have been punished by the university administration for allegedly taking part in a controversial February event, are on an indefinite hunger strike to demand revocation of punitive action.
The strike began on Wednesday night and the group includes Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and JNU Students’ Union general secretary Rama Naga.
Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban were arrested on the charge of sedition in February in connection with an event on campus against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised. They are out on bail now.
While Kanhaiya has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 10,000 on grounds of “indiscipline and misconduct”, Umar, Anirban and Mujeeb Gatoo, a Kashmiri student, have been rusticated for varying durations.
The striking students said that they reject the findings and recommendations of a high-level inquiry committee probing the February 9 incident.
“We are all sitting on an indefinite hunger strike against the arbitrary punishments given to us. The inquiry was a sham and students have rejected it in our general body meeting. We will not abide by the punishments given to us,” said Naga.
The students had earlier taken out a march inside the campus against the JNU administration demanding roll back of their punishments.
Meanwhile, five ABVP members also started a hunger strike saying that JNU had failed to distinguish between nationalists and anti-nationals while deciding the punishment. JNUSU joint-secretary Saurabh Sharma was fined Rs 10,000 in connection to the event.
“The punishment awarded to Saurabh for stopping the anti-national procession is a sad incident of criminalising patriotism and nation-service,” ABVP said in a statement.
ABVP demanded that the punishment be withdrawn. Sharma was the main complainant against the event during which slogans hailing 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru were allegedly raised.
Responding to the allegations, a senior university official said: “The sequence of events has been thoroughly probed by the five-member probe committee and the decision has been taken in accordance with university norms.”
(With inputs from PTI)