Upping the ante on the JNU row and Patiala House court violence, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday dubbed them as a “blot” on India’s image and sought President Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention for immediate action to “check the state of lawlessness and subversion of democratic rights”.
“It is not the Government’s job to destroy our educational institutions and crush expression of all students. Across the country, RSS is trying to impose a flawed ideology on the students of this country,” the 45-year-old leader said outside Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The country has been rocked by protests after Jawaharlal Nehru University student union president Kumar was arrested on sedition charges for allegedly organising an event where “anti-national” slogans were shouted.
Watch | Rahul Gandhi says JNU crackdown is a blot on India’s image
A mob of lawyers kicked and punched Kumar, while attacking journalists outside the Patiala House Courts on Wednesday, prompting the Supreme Court to ask authorities to evacuate the court room and rush a top advocate panel to assess the security situation. This was the second such incident in two days.
Gandhi condemned this violence, saying the brawls had tarnished India’s image and invoked the example of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula – who killed himself in Hyderabad after months of alleged caste discrimination.
“Nationalism is in my blood, I have seen my family sacrifice for this nation. If anyone said something against the nation he should be punished according to law. However it’s not the government’s job to destroy educational institutions and crush its students,” he said, with party leaders by his side.
He said any anti-national activity must be punished but criticised the government.
“The scenes of utter lawlessness playing out on the premises of the court are an affront to the democratic ideals of this country,” @OfficeofRG tweeted.
Copy of the Memorandum submitted to the President of India pic.twitter.com/n4EjvXftrZ— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 18, 2016
In the memorandum submitted to the President, Gandhi drew a link between the lawyer violence and the BJP, saying the brazen acts wasn’t possible without the “tacit support, encouragement or, at best, the indifference of the ruling establishment”.
“The government’s complete failure in managing tensions and restoring law and order, and its refusal to protect the democratic right of its citizens is a cause of deep concern for us,” the statement said.
The letter said that the attack on journalists appeared designed to intimidate the press. “This doesn’t bode well for our democracy. This is unacceptable.”
The memorandum also linked the JNU protests to the demonstrations at the University of Hyderabad and Pune’s Film and Television Institute of India, and said students holding views contrary to the government were being threatened and bullied.
“Over the last few months, the NDA government has displayed a dangerous tendency of undermining democratic freedoms and crushing the voices of those who do not share their views,” the statement read.