Kanhaiya Kumar released to vociferous welcome

Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar emerged from Tihar Jail in Delhi late on Thursday as feisty as ever, showing no signs of the trauma he has been put through as he proclaimed that his demand is not freedom from India, but freedom in India.

Close to midnight at JNU, Kanhaiya Kumar, released from jail just hours before, repeatedly shouted 'Azaadi' - the word that led to sedition charges against him. Hundreds of students cheered.

"Once again, let's raise slogans for freedom - not from India, but within India," said the 28-year-old to his captivated audience.

In the hour-long speech that trended worldwide and drew strong political reactions, Kanhaiya Kumar hit out at the Narendra Modi-led government.

He began with slogans of "Azaadi'' (freedom) from hunger, corruption, discrimination and backwardness. His supporters say he was arrested because his call for "Azaadi" was misinterpreted as "freedom from India".

Kumar said, "If there is a problem in the country, is it wrong to ask for azaadi from it? They say who is he demanding azaadi from? You tell me. Has India made anyone a slave? No. Then obviously not from India."

The student leader was released from Tihar Jail 21 days after his arrest on sedition charges for allegedly making anti-national statements at an event held on 9 February questioning the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged in 2013.

As he returned to the JNU campus last night, a large crowd of students was waiting at the same place where he made the speech called "seditious" by the police, and the atmosphere was electric.

"I come from a village. Where there are magic shows. People show magic and sell rings that fulfil all wishes ... we have some people like that in our country, who say black money will come back, sabka saath sabka vikas (development for all)," Kumar taking a dig at the BJP's election promises.

"We Indians forget too soon but this time the tamasha (show) is too big and these jumlas (gimmicks) won't be forgotten," he said to applause and laughter.

He quipped, "Some got swayed by your har har slogan. These days people are upset about arhar (dal)."

Kumar said he has "serious political differences with Modi but will agree with his tweet in which he said Satyamev Jayate (truth will triumph)".

While he was speaking, reactions had started pouring in. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was among the first to tweet his praise.

Police meanwhile continue to investigate the case and are? expected to file a charge-sheet in 90 days from the date of registration of the First Information Report (FIR).

After Kanhaiya Kumar's release on bail, the other two arrested students - Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya - are also likely to seek bail.