Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, whose arrest on sedition charges sparked a nationwide debate over free speech, was on Thursday released on bail for six months.
“I will write my own story now. I was made the victim of a media trial,” Kumar told NDTV after his release.
After his release, Kumar maintained that he never raised any anti-India slogans, asserting truth will prevail.
“Kanhaiya was released from the jail at around 6.30pm after his bail bond and release orders were properly scrutinised,” additional IG (prisons) and Tihar spokesperson Mukesh Prasad said.
The student leader was greeted with loud cheers by his supporters when he came out of the Tihar Jail. Celebrations also erupted on the JNU campus.
“I have been saying from the beginning that my son is not anti-national. He should have been acquitted of all charges,” Kumar’s Mother said after he was released. “I have complete faith in his upbringing,” she said.
The Delhi high court had on Wednesday approved Kumar’s bail on a personal bond of Rs 10,000 and asked him to cooperate in investigations into allegations that he had delivered a seditious speech during an event to commemorate the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
The court said a university faculty member would have to become a guarantor for the PhD student who was arrested on February 12.
Along with him, police had also accused two other students -- Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya -- of allegedly shouting anti-India slogans. They surrendered late last month. Khalid and Bhattacharya were remanded to 14-day judicial custody on Tuesday.
The arrest of the students has reignited a debate over free speech in a country where supporters of the ruling BJP government have cast themselves as champions of patriotism and sought to stamp out dissent.
Kumar’s arrest and subsequent events, including being assaulted by lawyers in Delhi’s Patiala House Court complex, sparked outrage across the nation, pitting the ruling BJP against the Opposition. Universities across India also joined in protests against his arrest.
The controversy has also dredged up concerns about the colonial-era sedition law, with many demanding it to be struck down. Political rivals also made a rare, united stand against the Centre, with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat sharing a stage.
Earlier in the day, a city court issued Kanhaiya’s release order after he furnished a bail bond.
Jail officials said the papers for the release of the JNU student leader were received at around 5 pm. Some JNU teachers were waiting for him at the gate of the jail when he was released about one-and-a-half-hours later.
“He was escorted to the jail gate and handed over to some teachers and other persons present there,” they said.
With PTI inputs