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Sedition law needs to be abolished: Ex-navy chief backs JNU students

JNU protests Updated: Feb 28, 2016 09:25 IST
Heena Kausar
Heena Kausar
Hindustan Times

Admiral (Retd) Ramdas addresses the students agitating for the release of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar at the Jawahar Lal Nehru University campus in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

Former navy chief Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas said on Saturday the slapping of sedition charges on students was ridiculous and there was no room for the law in a democracy, throwing his weight behind the JNU protesters.

“I highly doubt these videos doing the rounds as many have turned out to be doctored. Agencies need to first find out who raised those slogans. It’s ridiculous to book random students for sedition. There is no room for sedition in our democratic country. This law needs to be abolished,” Ramdas said while addressing students at JNU on the topic “Demilitarizing nationalism: anti-war perspectives on patriotism”.

The former navy chief was not the only veteran at the university on Saturday. The campus became a battlefield of ideas with a lecture on “Nationalism: straight from the battlefield” organised by ABVP members concurrent with the protesting students’ event where Ramdas spoke.

Ramdas, also a former internal Lokpal of the Aam Aadmi Party, said human security was national security. “No nation can become strong just by posing its military might,” he said.

“Nation is built of its people. National security is human security. We need education, jobs and quality of life to be a strong nation.”

Calling the Constitution the holiest of holy books, Ramdas said freedom of speech exists due to the book and advised students to not impose their ideas on others. “Don’t be afraid and don’t let anyone bully you. You have every right to swing both arms but don’t touch anybody’s nose while doing so. You have every right to express your views but don’t impose it on others,” he said.

Addressing students at the ABVP event, Lieutenant General Niranjan Singh Malik said Pakistan was waging a proxy war against India. Recognising Tibet as a part of China and going to the United Nations on Jammu and Kashmir were mistakes committed by India, he said.

The ABVP also organised a public screening of the India-Pakistan T20 match on the campus as part of its #JNU4nationalism campaign.

“Pakistan knows it can’t defeat us on the battlefield, therefore they are waging a proxy war and trying to benefit from our internal weaknesses to disturb our internal security. We are moving forward in every area, cyber, warship, economy and that is what keeps our neighbour unhappy,” said Brigadier Raj Bahadur Sharma.

A scheduled talk on the topic “Mahishasur and Indian Nationalism” by Dalit ideologue Prem Kumar Mani did not happen on Saturday.

“JNU has been chosen for this fight as a symbol. They think if they can silence JNU, they can silence the nation. Remember we are fighting for the nation. In that sense, we are lucky to be chosen,” Mridula Mukherjee, professor of history at JNU, said at a lecture on civil liberties and Indian nationalism.

Three days back, some ex-servicemen met the vice-chancellor and the registrar at the university to suggest army tanks be parked on the campus to instil nationalism in students. The registrar said the suggestion was a positive one and the university would think about it.