JNU students give shutdown call

Students and faculty hold “Save JNU” public meeting-cum-protest outside the V-C office

Updated - February 14, 2016 08:44 am IST

Published - February 14, 2016 12:00 am IST

JNU students during a “Save JNU” protest on campus in New Delhi on Saturday.— Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

JNU students during a “Save JNU” protest on campus in New Delhi on Saturday.— Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

tudents of JNU have given a shutdown call, saying that they will not allow classes to be held on the campus till students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar is released.

A day after he was arrested under sedition charges and sent to three-day police custody, voices of dissent, both from teachers and students, against police action gained momentum in and outside the campus.

A large number of students from the University, along with some faculty members, held a “Save JNU” public meeting-cum-protest outside the office of Vice-Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar, where they defended their right to free speech and dispelled doubts about the “anti-national” status of the University.

During the public meeting, a JNUSU member said: “We are declaring a strike in JNU on Monday. If Kanhaiya is not released, the strike will go on. We demand that the police release him immediately or we will not let classes happen on campus.”

Slogans like “ Kanhaiya ko riha karo [free Kanhaiya]”, “ Dilli police wapas jao [Delhi Police go back]” and “long live JNU” resonated across the campus on Saturday evening, which also saw Left leader Sitaram Yechury, and Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Anand Sharma addressing the students.

While most of the protest was peaceful, there was a slight disruption when Mr. Sharma was allegedly attacked by unknown assailants. Eyewitnesses said he was repeatedly struck on the ear by an assailant, which led to profuse bleeding. The JNUSU issued a statement condemning the attack and alleged that an ABVP activist assaulted him.

Addressing the students, Mr. Yechury, an JNU alumnus, said: “No one in the country believes that students or teachers of JNU can be anti-national. In fact, being a former JNU student myself, I can vouch for the fact that in JNU we believe in the fact that a student can be cut into pieces and not country.”

He criticised the sedition law saying: “The sedition law has been misused. It is the same law under which Bhagat Singh was hanged during the British era. We have to protect modern India from these kind of acts.”

Mr. Gandhi told the students: “Most anti-national people are those who are suppressing the voice of students in this institution”.

Mohit, a JNU student, said: “We do not need a certificate for being patriotic. We are from this country and we stand for the rights of the country’s people. People who are trying to malign our image and that of JNU are actually anti-national.”

The students also objected to police presence on campus. “There is some kind of witch-hunting going on here. There is police on the gates all the time and the police are entering the campus too. We want all this to stop,” said another student.

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