Kashmir is an integral part of the country and Indians can discuss issues pertaining to Kashmiris at any forum, JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar said on Friday.
Kumar denied supporting Kashmiri militant Afzal Guru, but said he opposed capital punishment.
Kumar was charged with sedition in connection with an event at JNU where anti-India slogans were allegedly shouted. He was granted bail earlier this month.
Speaking at the India Today conclave, Kumar said: “There is no doubt that Kashmir is an integral part of India. And since Kashmiris are Indians, we can always discuss their issues.”
“Our protest (on February 9) was against capital punishment, not in support of Afzal,” he said, adding that even if an ABVP activist was given capital punishment, he would oppose it.
Guru was hanged three years ago for an attack on Indian Parliament in 2001.
“The JNU culture promotes debate and discussion. It is not our culture to stop people from speaking or putting forth their point of view, even if we do not agree with it,” he said.
Asked why he did not stop people from allegedly raising provocative slogans at JNU on February 9, Kumar said neither he or nor his All India Students Federation (AISF) supported such slogans or Kashmir’s secession.
Kumar vowed to wage a battle for scrapping of the sedition law under which he and two other PhD scholars of the university were arrested after a controversy broke out.
Welcoming the bail granted to Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, he said all parties and people supporting democracy must come forward to demand abolishing the British-era law.
Khalid and Bhattacharya, arrested last month on charges of sedition for their involvement in the controversial event, were on Friday granted interim bail for six months by a Delhi court on grounds of parity with Kumar.
“Those who are supporting democracy should come together. It will be a long battle. We have been given the bail. We will go on with our struggle to ensure that the sedition law is scrapped,” Kumar said.
“I have been to jail. I know what it feels to be there. I am glad our comrades will be back but the struggle will continue,” said Kumar.