After days of highpitched protests and speeches, Jawaharlal Nehru University was relatively calmer through the day on Tuesday. JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, however, surrendered in the night.
“Friends, this is to inform you that comrade Umar and comrade Anirban have surrendered. It’s a moment of sadness for the campus because we have seen these activists for years standing with the students. However, they have placed their faith in the law and we hope that they will be released soon. We also hope that comrade Kanhaiya gets bail tomorrow,” said JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid in a statement.
Khalid and Bhattacharya remained missing from the administrative block on Tuesday where they had been camping since Sunday, while retired Army personnel visited the campus to express concern over the recent events.
All India Students’ Association (AISA) students Ashutosh, Rama Naga and Anant Prakash too were not seen at the admin block throughout the day.
Union leaders, however, said the three had informed the police that they were on campus earlier in the day. “We have given the details of the students and informed the DCP concerned that we are here on the campus and we will cooperate,” said Sucheta De, national president of AISA.
After rumours emerged that some people were planning to attack Khalid, the university administration took precautions and tightened security on the campus.
Sources said the calm at the university could be because there weren’t many students on the campus on Tuesday as they had gone to Jantar Mantar to join the protest demanding justice for Rohith Vemula — the University of Hyderabad student who allegedly committed suicide.
It was the teachers, however, who stayed constantly in the admin block as vice chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar held a meeting with the deans of all schools and chairperson of all the centres. The meeting took stock of the steps that are being taken to restore normalcy on the campus.
“There are two lawyers who are handling the students’ case. We want everything to be done legally and constitutionally,” said Neeladri Bhattacharya, faculty at the Centre for Historical Studies School of Social Sciences.
Ex-servicemen also met the V-C to express concern. “We did not come here with any demand. We just came to express our concern as Armed forces have a long relation with JNU,” said retired Lt. General Ranjan Singh Mallik.
On being asked about whether they would return the degrees to JNU one of the officers said, “Why should we return our degree?”