Student leader Kanhaiya Kumar organised a controversial event at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where “anti-national” slogans were allegedly shouted and may create law and order problems if granted bail, police told the high court on Wednesday.
In a status report, Delhi Police opposed bail for Kumar and said authorities needed to confront him with two other accused Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya – both of whom surrendered late on Tuesday – to unearth “any larger conspiracy”. Both were sent to three-day police custody by a local court.
“It (bail) would send a wrong signal to the student community across the country that such anti-India activities can be conducted with immunity,” the report said.
Kanhaiya was not cooperating in the interrogation, police told the court.
“We have to ensure that they don’t suffer any scratch, that’s my only concern,” noted Justice Pratibha Rani and deferred the bail hearing to February 29.
The court ordered authorities to “maintain confidentiality” during the remand proceedings of Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya after the student leaders apprehended a threat to their safety and security during production before the trial court.
Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the court Delhi Police would ensure the safety of lawyers and accused in the case.
President of the JNU students’ union (JNUSU), Kumar’s arrest on sedition charges and subsequent attacks on him by a mob of lawyers outside a Delhi court triggered outrage last week. He is in judicial custody until March 2.
Kumar’s police remand would be sought for a third time to probe the alleged “linkage” between him and some “foreign elements” present during the February 9 event. Police said it hadn’t identified the persons who hid their faces by covering their mouths.
But advocate Vrinda Grover, who is defending the JNU students, dismissed the report, saying it wasn’t based on the police investigation.
“We will be filing a detailed reply. Kanhaiya went the event as JNUSU president to ensure there was no dispute between the two groups,” Grover told HT.
“Delhi Police is making completely wild allegation. I think is distressing to see that investigation is done to appease their political masters. What police should be investigating is why was the video doctored, who doctored it, who was to gain from it,” she said.
Apart from her, senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Rebecca John, and advocate Kamini Jaiswal were present for the defence.
In its report, Delhi Police said, “Accused Kanhaiya, the petitioner herein (for bail), not only participated in the said event but actually organised the same in connivance with other accused persons.”
Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi told reporters last week that he wouldn’t oppose bail for Kumar. But the police affidavit said Kumar may influence witnesses and hamper the probe if released.
“He (Kanhaiya) may become rallying point to encourage such anti-India movements which would not only spread disaffection but would also be contemptuous since the conviction recorded by the Supreme Court is being termed judicial killing,” the report stated.
An accused may be held in police custody for a period of normally not more than 14 days. As Kanhaiya was arrested on February 12, Delhi Police have the statutory right to seek remand before the expiry of 14-day period, the HC was told.