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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, others charged with sedition, question timing of charge sheet

Kanhaiya Kumar, who completed his PhD from the university’s School of International Studies last year, said the chargesheet was “politically motivated”.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2019 10:54 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Umar Khalid (right) said that the government has once again tried to deflect attention from its failures by raking up this issue just before elections.
Umar Khalid (right) said that the government has once again tried to deflect attention from its failures by raking up this issue just before elections.(HT File )
         

The timing of Delhi Police’s chargesheet, which was filed in a Delhi court on Monday, was questioned by former JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, former research scholars Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, all of whom were charged by the police for allegedly raising ‘anti-national’ slogans at a campus event almost three years ago.

Kumar, who completed his PhD from the university’s School of International Studies last year, said the chargesheet was “politically motivated”.

“The timing of filing of chargesheet ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections clearly shows it to be politically motivated. But we are happy that the chargesheet is finally filed. We demand a speedy trial now so that the truth comes out. I trust the judiciary of my country,” he said.

Khalid said, “A chargesheet should ideally be filed within 90 days after the FIR and not 90 days before the next election.”

In a joint statement with Anirban Bhattacharya, Khalid added, “As the people of this country have prepared their own chargesheet 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,” they said.

Seven Kashmiri students have also been charged with sedition by the Delhi Police.

At an event held on JNU campus on February 9, 2016, it was alleged that “anti-national” slogans were raised by some students to protest the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The incident snowballed into a national controversy following which the Delhi Police arrested three students — Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya.

Former JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid called it a “bogus” case. Rashid is also named in the chargesheet but not charged with sedition because police said they are “still gathering evidence against her”.

“I was not even on the campus on the day of the incident. It is a bogus chargesheet that has been filed ahead of the Lok Sabha elections to reap political benefits,” she said.

Aparajitha Raja, a PhD student and daughter of Rajya Sabha MP and CPI leader D Raja, said the chargesheet is an assault on “students’ activism”. The name of Raja, like Rashid’s, has been put in column 12 of the chargesheet, which means police are gathering evidence against her. “The fact that it has taken them three years to put together a chargesheet clearly shows that it has no grounds. It is a cooked up matter to silence the voices of students who speak against the power. No seditious activity has ever taken place on the JNU campus,” she said.

Meanwhile, Saurabh Sharma, the main complainant in the case and member of RSS-affiliated ABVP, termed the chargesheet a “national victory”. “This is also the victory of all those students who put their life in danger by showing courage to raise their voice against the urban naxals who had raised the anti-national slogans. We believe in judiciary and wish that it will act hard on those who attacked on the pride and dignity of this nation,” he said.

JNUSU president N Sai Balaji also questioned the timing of the chargesheet. “What took Delhi police three years to file a so-called open-and-shut case? Just before 2019 elections, on the orders of current government, Delhi Police is doing what it does best; punish students fighting for jobs and their rights,” he said.

First Published: Jan 15, 2019 10:29 IST