Kanhaiya Kumar charged in JNU sedition case, says it is pre-poll politics
The Delhi Police Monday filed its chargesheet in a court against former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar in a sedition case lodged in 2016.Updated: Jan 14, 2019 23:17 IST
The Delhi Police charged former Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar and nine others, including Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, with sedition on Monday, three years after they allegedly raised “anti-India” slogans at an event at the university.
The police submitted a 1,200-page charge sheet in the Patiala House court over the JNU event that was held on February 9, 2016 to protest the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
Kumar and Khalid questioned the filing of the charge sheet ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and said the police action was “politically motivated” and a “diversionary ploy” by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government. Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya, student leaders who were arrested over the event that triggered a political row between the government and opposition parties, are out on bail. The maximum punishment for sedition is a life term.
Apart from 10 people charged with sedition, 36 others including then JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja’s daughter Aprajita, and students Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Banojyotsna Lahiri have been mentioned in the charge sheet, with the police saying they are still gathering evidence linked to them.
The charge sheet was filed before metropolitan magistrate Sumeet Anand, who posted the matter for further hearing on Tuesday.
Watch: 1,200 page chargesheet filed against Kanhaiya Kumar, nine others in JNU sedition case
In the document, the police said that Kumar, who led the “unlawful assembly”, raised slogans against India. They also said they have electronic, oral and documentary evidence that establishes the sedition charges. The police added that the former JNUSU president incited the gathering to shout “anti-India” slogans and argued with security guards when they objected to the event.
The charge sheet said forensics reports established that 10 mobile phone video recordings collected after the protest and a video clip by television channel Zee News on the incident were not doctored and captured the slogans raised by the JNU students.
“The timing of filing of the charge sheet ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections clearly shows it to be politically motivated. But we are happy that the charge sheet is finally filed. We demand a speedy trial now so that the truth comes out. I trust the judiciary of my country,” Kumar said after the charge sheet was filed.
The police said they recorded statements of at least 90 witnesses including JNU’s administration staff, security guards, students, outsiders who had gathered for the protest, three police constables who were at the campus in civil dress during the event, and a Zee News reporter and a cameraman who covered the protest.
The investigators said they used social media posts to identify seven people other than Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya.
Apart from sedition, all 10 accused have been charged with voluntarily causing hurt, unlawful assembly, rioting and criminal conspiracy. Khalid has been additionally charged for allegedly forging signatures of two JNU students to seek permission for the event on the campus.
The other seven accused who have been charged with sedition are former JNU students Mujeeb Hussain Gattoo and Khalid Bashir Bhat, practising dentist Aqueeb Hussain, two students from Jamia Milia Islamia university, Umair Gul and Basharat Ali, Aligarh Muslim University student Muneeb Hussain Gattoo and Rayees Rasool, who was then working as a freelance journalist. All seven are from Kashmir, the police said. They said that Khaild had invited the seven to the 2016 event, adding that no permission was granted for the protest.
“A charge sheet should ideally be filed within 90 days after the FIR and not 90 days before the next election,” Khalid said on Monday. “As the people of this country have prepared their own charge sheet against this anti-people, anti-poor and communal government, it has once again tried to deflect attention from its failures by raking up this issue just before elections,” he said in a joint statement with Bhattacharya.
An FIR was registered in the case on February 11, 2016 against unidentified people at the Vasant Kunj (North) police station. On February 12, Kumar was arrested, sparking massive outrage among students. Two weeks later, on February 24, Khalid and Bhattacharya were arrested. They were released on bail later.
The incident had triggered protests across the country, prompting political parties to attack the government over the matter.
On Monday, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram dubbed the charges against Kumar and others as “absurd”, while his party said it hoped that the legal process will be carried out in a just manner.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also criticised the move “No surprises here. We are only months away from the General Election. Like always, using Kashmiris to score extra political points with the Indian electorate has become somewhat of a prerequisite,” she said.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad leader and JNUSU’s former joint secretary Saurabh Sharma said “a false narrative was created that the footage of the incident was doctored”. He added: “The delay in filing the charge sheet was because of these reasons. I stand as a proof to what happened there as I witnessed the whole episode myself.”