We fear lynching and witch-hunt: JNU student charged with sedition

  • Nilesh Mathur, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 24, 2016 17:04 IST
Left to Right- Rama Naga, Ashutosh and Anant the JNU students who conducted a cultural event to commemorate Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's hanging, and was believed to have absconded.at JNU Campus, in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday , February 23, 2016. (Hindustan Times)

New Delhi: AISA leader Rama Naga, the general secretary of Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union (JNUSU), and one of the six JNU students charged with sedition, said the video clippings of the controversial February 9 event have been doctored and that he and his fellow students never raised any anti-India slogans.

In an interview with Hindustan Times, Naga said they have complete faith in the judicial system of the country. Excerpts:

What happened on the night of February 9?

I had gone to the administrative block to fix the route of a new bus which has been acquired by JNU when I received a call from a student that the administration had cancelled permission to hold a cultural event ‘Country Without A Post Office’ just 15 minutes before it was scheduled to take place at 5pm.

The organisers of the event wanted me to ask to the authorities of the university why the permission was denied at such a short notice due to a complaint from ABVP students. I called the registrar and he denied that any permission of this sort had been given. When I told him that the permission letter had the signature of the dean of students welfare, the dean who was sitting next to him at that time said that he was taking back the permission granted earlier. He also said that he was not given the complete details of the event.

The students, who had gathered for the event, then moved away from the badminton court area, where the event was supposed to take place, and went under a tree near the Sabarmati hostel and decided to continue their scheduled programme there. The organisers of the event, who were earlier members of Democratic Students Union (DSU), but are now independent students as they have resigned from organisation, had called some outsiders for this event. These outsiders started raising anti-India slogans at the event and I immediately protested against this. JNUSU office bearers present on the spot opposed such slogans. At the end of the cultural event, the organisers decided to march from Sabarmati to Ganga Dhaba with a mashal(torchlight).

A group of ABVP students had also gathered on the other side of the road of Sabarmati hostel near 24X7 Dhaba. They also had some outsiders with them and were also raising slogans. Seeing trouble ahead and fearing a clash between the two groups, I asked JNU’s G4S supervisor Surya Prakash and JNU administration security officer OP Yadav to form a human chain separating the two groups. I was also part of this human chain. Both these groups then marched towards the Ganga Dhaba raising slogans.

What is your take on the alleged anti-India slogans shown in the video clippings on television news channels?

We as JNUSU office bearers opposed the anti-India slogans raised by some outsiders on February 9. We also took out leaflets on February 11, condemning the slogan shouting. We completely disassociated ourselves from this kind of activity. The video clippings have been doctored and at no time during the protests Kanhaiya had raised anti-India slogans. The video of the protest which took place on February 11 at the admin block was taken and audio clips from February 9 protests were merged with it.

Where were you when the police was searching for you?

I along with former JNUSU president Ashutosh and former JNUSU vice-president Anant were near the campus but could not co-operate with the police due to the fear of mob lynching and witch-hunting. Male police officers were entering the women’s hostel to pick up students.

My intention, however, was to co-operate with the investigation. I cannot tell the whereabouts of other missing students during this period as I was not in touch with them.

You have been accused of being anti-national? What do you have to say on this?

We are not anti-India or anti-constitutional. We have complete faith in the Constitution . We have complete faith and respect for the unity and integrity of the nation. We love our nation and its people and we also have complete faith in our judicial system.

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What do you have to say about the support which you are receiving from the JNU community and the universities around the world?

The way the teachers, students and karamcharis of the university have come in full support of the students’ union representatives and tried to save the soul of JNU, will be remembered in the history. I am thankful to everyone who came in support.

Security guards form a chain around a JNU building where students accused of sedition have taken shelter. (Sushil Kumar/ HT photo)

What is the plan now?

We are dependent on the vice-chancellor of the university whether he wants to call the police in the campus and get us arrested on not. The V-C should use his power to say no to the entry of police on the campus. But if he allows the police to come in and arrest us then we will fully co-operate with the police and the judicial process. Our VC should write to Delhi Police to rollback the sedition charges against JNU students and all rusticated students should be taken back.

The internal inquiry committee created by the administration to probe the incident should also be reconstituted. We will not appear in front of the committee unless these measures are taken.

People say that JNU is run by tax-payers’ money and students are using it to promote anti-national activities in the campus? What do you have to say on this?

No doubt institutes like JNU run on tax-payers’ money, but we are not misusing it. We work to serve our community and we have love for our country. JNU students have contributed a lot to the country by providing many administrators and well-known academicians. The JNU community, including the students’ union, does not identify itself with the outsiders who had come in the campus and were raising anti-India slogans. Identify the outsiders, or even if any insider was involved in anti-India activity, and let the law of the land be applied to such people.

Tell us something about yourself.

I belong to Ramgiri village of one of the most deprived Koraput district of Odisha. I did my primary level studies in a village school and then moved to a high school three kilometre away. Having completed my Class 12 from a block school and graduation in political science from Vikram Dev College in Jeypore town of Koraput district I came to JNU in 2012.

I am presently in the final year of my MPhil in Centre for Political studies. I am the first student from my area who has come to study in JNU. My father sells bangles moving from one village to another in the area and none of my parents are literate. Our survival depends on the money he earns from this. I am the youngest in the family and have a elder brother and sister.

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