Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday questioned a JNU panel’s proposal that students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar and other scholars should be rusticated for their alleged role in an event police say anti-national slogans were raised.
The JD(U) leader, who had in the past said that he saw “too much design” in Kumar’s arrest, also wondered whether the turn of events pointed towards an attempt to “take over” the institution.
Noting that the Jawaharlal Nehru University is known for freedom of views, he said that such encroachment on freedom of expression was “dangerous for democracy”.
“What have the students done for which they want to take the extreme step of rusticating them. They are only deepening the crisis. It is clear that democratic traditions are being attacked to impose one viewpoint,” he said.
The chief minister said this in response to a question regarding the decision of a high-level JNU panel that recommended the rustication of Kanhaiya, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and two other students for their ‘role’ in holding a controversial event last month during which purported anti-national slogans were raised.
JNU vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar and chief proctor A Dimri will be taking a decision on the recommendation of the panel shortly.
Maintaining that an overwhelming majority in JNU does not accept the ideology of the RSS, Kumar wondered whether all this was directed towards “an attempt to take over (the university)”. Kumar had on previous occasion alleged that the centre was targeting JNU’s unique ideological heritage and was out to destroy it at the ABVP’s behest.
“All that is being done is totally inappropriate. An unnecessary crisis is being precipitated at JNU. In my view, registration of the case against them was inappropriate. So far, no evidence has been provided which proves sedition. Even the videos that were circulated have turned out to be doctored,” he said.
“Trying to clampdown on the freedom of expression, in this manner, is dangerous for democracy,” Kumar said.