A day after his release from Tihar Central Jail, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar said on Friday that “he idolises Rohith Vemula and not Afzal Guru.”
Mr. Kumar also put an end to speculation of his joining national politics and said: “I am a student, currently my focus is on academics.”
The 29-year-old research scholar addressed a press conference in the administration block of JNU where he answered questions, including the “tricky” ones on Afzal Guru and Kashmir, and handled them well.
“If you talk to me about Afzal Guru, he was just another Indian citizen for me, given punishment by the law. At a personal level, I would like to clarify that he is not my idol, Rohith Vemula is my idol.”
Further coming down hard on the Modi government for “maligning” the image of JNU, Mr. Kumar said efforts to ‘patent’ nationalism must be defeated and there was a huge difference between “treason” and speaking against the government. “We strongly condemn what happened on February 9. It is for the court to decide if that was ‘ raaj droh’ [sedition] or not. But I urge the government not to use the serious charge of sedition to ruin the future of students,” he said.
He appealed to the people to stop looking at JNU students with a negative perspective.
"We are not terrorists"
Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar said here on Friday that “we are just students not terrorists.’
Addressing a press conference on the JNU campus, a day after he was released from jail on interim bail, Mr. Kumar said: “We are all students here. We are like any other young person in the country who is trying to receive good education in order to succeed in their life. I appeal to everyone to change their perspective towards our students.”
He was arrested on February 12 in connection with the February 9 event organised to protest the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on his third death anniversary during which “anti-national” slogans were allegedly raised.
Mr. Kumar was granted interim bail for six months by the Delhi High Court on condition that he would cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
Asked whether he would join politics, Mr. Kumar said: “I am not a politician, I am a student”, insisting JNU students can never be anti-national as they understand the meaning of freedom of speech and meaning of freedom.
“My task is to study and fight for those who wish to study but are unable to do so. Since the fight is long, there can’t be a victory march but a unity march on that.”
Reacting to remarks that taxpayers’ money was being wasted in running the university, Mr. Kumar said “I want to tell the people of the country that the taxes they pay are being invested in the right place.”
Teachers meet V-C
Members of the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) met the Vice-Chancellor again on Friday with a list of demands, the primary among them being the removal of the officiating Registrar Bhupinder Zutshi. Vikramaditya Chaudhary, the JNUTA secretary, said the delegation sought the Vice-Chancellor’s response to the issue by Monday. “But the V-C said he would be able to respond only by Tuesday. We agreed to give him the time,” said Mr. Chaudhary after the meeting.