JNU student activists idolising Afzal Guru held for anti-national debate

Delhi police today arrested JNU Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and booked other students for sedition a day after the Hurriyat Conference challenged government and police to take action against a section of students for attempting to open a debate on the hanging of terrorist Afzal Guru.

Reports said the arrest followed orders from union home minister Rajnath Singh who asked the Delhi Police to take "strongest possible action" against those who were allegedly involved in anti-India acts in the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus.

Kumar who was produced in Patiala court today was sent to three-day police custody.

The action follows the student faction hosting a function related to Afzal Guru and linking it to the broader theme of human rights and state oppression.

Earlier in the day, Rajnath Singh had warned of "strongest possible" action against those involved in raising anti-India slogans at an event in JNU campus here, saying such activities will not be tolerated.

"If anyone raises anti-India slogans, tries to raise questions on country's unity and integrity, they will not be spared. Stringent action will be taken against them," he said.

Taking serious note of the incidents, vice chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University M Jagadesh Kumar, after consultation with the Dean's Committee, said that appropriate action will be taken in the case and that a high-level enquiry.

A statement from the vice chancellor said: "Committee has been constituted to investigate the matter and take appropriate action as necessary. While the JNU community upholds the right to free debate on campus, the university strongly condemns the use of the university as a platform for activities that violate the Constitution and the laws of the land. However, there could be aberrations where fringe sections misuse the freedom provided.

"While that problem would be appropriately addressed in this case, the university would also take steps to protect the academic atmosphere and the environment for vibrant discussion that JNU has always provided and stands for. All sections of the JNU community, including representatives of the students, teachers and karmacharis have assured that they uphold the values and ethos of this University. lt is an appeal to all sections to go beyond this incident and return the campus to normalcy."

A JNUSU office bearer said, "They want to witch-hunt and target us, like they targeted Rohith Vemula. They want us to hang ourselves like Rohith did."

"Police are doing rounds of the campus and mindlessly witch-hunting activists. RSS is running campaigns to shut down JNU," he added.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury compared the incident to what happened during the Emergency. He said, "What is happening in JNU? Police on campus, arrests and picking up students from hostels. This last happened during Emergency."

Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said an FIR under section of 124 A of IPC (sedition) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) has been registered against unknown persons at Vasant Kunj (North) Police Station and the video footage of the event was being examined for further action.

Marking the death anniversary of Guru, a group of students on Tuesday held an event on the campus and shouted slogans against government for the hanging, despite the university administration having cancelled the permission following a complaint by ABVP members, who termed the activity as "anti-national".

The JNU administration has already instituted a "disciplinary" enquiry as to how the event took place despite withdrawal of permission and said it will wait for the probe report before taking any further action.