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Political slugfest over arrest of president of JNU students’ union

While BJP termed the incident of celebrating Afzal Guru’s hanging as death anniversary and raising anti-India slogans as an insult to India, Congress and Left said the ruling government is stifling students’ voices.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2016 01:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Kanhaiya Kumar,JNU protests,Afzal guru
Residents of Munirka village protest outside the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) against the organising of a meet to “mourn” the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.(PTI)

The arrest of JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition on Friday resulted in a political slugfest, with HRD minister Smriti Irani calling it an insult to mother India and the Congress and other opposition parties accusing the ruling party of “curbing” students’ voice.

“I only want to say that today is the day of worship of Goddess Saraswati. Saraswati blesses every family that whatever they speak is for progress and strengthening the nation. Nation will never tolerate insult to mother India,” she told reporters at JNU.

Welcoming the arrest, the BJP questioned the silence of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on the issue. “On one hand our soldiers are sacrificing their lives on the border and on the other, anti-India slogans are being raised in an institutes like JNU and terrorists are being hailed as martyrs. This is very unfortunate,” said party national secretary Shrikant Sharma.

“BJP welcomes the arrest and hope that action will be taken against other accused too. There is a limit to everything,” he added.

Hitting back, the Congress said that the BJP should stop branding JNU as anti-national and raised questions over the NDA’s “capacity to tolerate a different point of view”.

“The BJP has been curbing students’ voice and it was evident from the protests at FTII, IIT Madras and Hyderabad Central University. Is police action in JNU a desperate attempt to perpetuate it? Take action against those guilty but isn’t BJP using Delhi Police for it’s anti-JNU tirade? Proud of JNU, stop branding it anti-national,” said Congress communication department chief Randeep Surjewala on Twitter.

Another party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said merely saying something does not fall in the category of sedition, unless it is backed by some action.

Addressing the media from the AICC podium, Singhvi also alleged that not only workers but BJP MLAs, MPs and ministers have made “similar shocking divisive anti-national statements.”

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in Kolkata, “The question is do you know who raised the slogans? Take action according to law against them. When you don’t know, then how are you arresting all the student leaders? ...male police are going and raiding girls’ hostels. Only during Emergency we saw this happen. That is the sort of Emergency state they are reducing our country to again. This time it is the BJP.”

First Published: Feb 13, 2016 01:15 IST