Home » india news » #JNURow: Students rally behind Umar and all other 'anti-national' students

#JNURow: Students rally behind Umar and all other 'anti-national' students

Suhas Munshi & Vikas Kumar | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:44 IST

Update at 3 PM: A large number of buses will be moving from Ganga Dhaba at 10 AM on Tuesday morning for Ambedkar Bhavan, from where the march will begin at 11 AM. These buses have been arranged by NSUI.

Update at 2 PM: Syed Qasim Illyas Rasool, Khalid's father is at JNU to meet Umar.

Update at 1 PM:

Akbar Chowdhary, ex-president JNUSI announces JNUTA decision around 11:30 on Monday morning:

1. Police should not be given permission to enter campus. I talked to VC and conveyed. Should not lead to more arbitrary arrests and framing of charges.

2. All charges should be dropped. Very serious charges. On the basis of fake videos.

3. Internal mechanism activated after reconstituting the enquiry committee. Credibility of the whole procedure under cloud.

4. Conducive atmosphere should be created for students to appear before committee. Not with police standing at the gate.

Energy remained high at the Capital's Jawaharlal Nehru University on Monday morning as students debated with the vice-chancellor the course of action that should be taken about Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and other students facing sedition charges.

The JNU Students Union urged VC M Jagadeesh Kumar to follow the example of Suranjan Das, his counterpart in Kolkata's Jadavpur University, and resist police action within the campus. Meanwhile, the atmosphere remained charged as rumours flew thick and fast about an impending police action.

Many on the campus have spent a sleepless night as Umer, Anirban and others reappered in public amid loud cheer from a nearly-thousand-strong crowd.


Photo: Charu Kartikeya

Addressing the students, Umar brought back the memories of Rohith Vemula, the Dalit scholer who killed himself last month at Hyderabad University.

Video: Shehla Rashid Shora addresses JNU students on Monday morning

On Saturday, the Delhi Police issued look-out notices Riyaz apart from Umar and Anirban for conspiring to organise an event on 9 February, commemorating the hanging of Afzal Guru in the Parliament attack case, where some of those preset allegedly raised anti-India slogans.

JNU_Umar Khalid

Photo: Suhas Munshi/Catch News

Six JNU students, including Umar and Anirban, face sedition charges. JNUSU Student's Union President Kanhaiya Kumar is already undergoing trial.

But after reappering in public, Umar and Anirban - both members of the now-disbanded Democratic Students Union (DSU) - aggressively countered the charges against them at a midnight meeting at the steps of the campus administration block.

"In the past seven years, the first time I felt I was a Muslim was in the last 10 days. To quote Rohith Vemula, I was reduced to my immediate identity and it is shameful," Umar said.

"I have come to know so many things about myself that I myself did not know... I don't have a passport, but I learnt that I've been to Pakistan twice," Umar said sarcastically in a speech that was scathing on the government, the Sangh Parivar, the university administration and the media.

Some of the points he made were:

  • He was branded a terrorist, with links to Jaish-e-Muhammad
  • His family members received threats of rape and murder

  • There was a media trial against him

"Start thinking, and you will become an anti-national immediately," he said, before recounting the Narendra Modi regime's run-ins with students of the Film and Television Institute of India, Hyderabad Central University, Benares Hindu University and now JNU.

Anirban also highlighted Rohith's death and said even if he and more were put in jail, students should not let the campus turn into a prison.

All six charged with sedition and eight students who have been debarred by the university authority are from Leftist students' organisations. While Umar and Anirban were with the DSU, Kanhaiya is from the

Communist Party of India (CPI) -backed All-India Students' Federation.

Apart from him, two others in the union panel - Vice-President Shehla Rashid Shora and General Secretary Rama Naga - belong to the All-India Students' Association, an wing of CPI (Marist-Leninist) Liberation.

Only one member, Joint Secretary Saurabh Kumar, is from Akhil Bharatiya Visyarthi Parishad (ABVP), aligned with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological fountainhead of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The ABVP, the first and one of the complainants in the 9 February incident, finds itself isolated to a large extent within JNU as the Left organisations, including CPI (Marxist)'s Student's Federation of India, have rallied together on the issue.

A call for a human chain in protest of Kanhaiya's release last Sunday drew some 3,500 participants within the campus, while last Thursday almost 10,000 people marched the streets of the Capital in solidarity with the students.

On Friday, three ABVP members resigned over differences regarding the sedition issue and the Rohith episode.

On Sunday, Shehla - who has led students demanding the release of Kanhaiya - told the midnight gathering the police were free to arrest Umar, but it must do so "in front of the entire campus . unlike the way Kanhaiya was arrested".

JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid Shora_LEAD

Photo: Vikas Kumar/Catch News

She said students were aware that several from the "right wing", some police personnel without uniforms and informers were present, and urged students to maintain peace even if they were to be arrested: "Our show of strength is not a show of muscle, it is a show of solidarity."

According to a report by NDTV, however, the JNU vice-chancelor, M Jagadeesh Kumar was not allowing the police to step inside the campus and the police was reluctant to move in.

The issue also left the media divided with some news channels going out of the way to declare Umar a Jaish-e-Muhammad sympathiser. Over the weekend, Vishwa Deepak, a journalist with Zee News resigned over differences on the stand the channel took.

In an interview earlier this week, Shehla underscored the fallacies of Umar's "media trial" and denied he was among those who raised anti-national slogans. She had said the government was upset with the university and its students for raising "uncomfortable" issues like fellowships for PhD students.

On Sunday, she turned the heat onto the police: "If such terrorists have been roaming around the city in prime locations, were you sleeping then? Why doesn't your entire department resign?" She also charged the university administration with trying to terrorise the student community.

The mood of the campus remained charged. Be it Shehla, Umar or Anirban, whoever spoke was cheered exuberantly at the admin block - where students have been sitting in protest and where eminent scholars have been holding open-air classes on nationalism.

Here's what Mohith, a PhD student and an AISA member had to say:

The crowd thinned after the speeches, but a sizeable population lingered on even in the wee hours. Several of them lit up small fires to beat the 4 a.m. chill. The mood of the university was not very different.

With inputs from Charu Kartikeya

Edited by Joyjeet Das

First published: 22 February 2016, 3:19 IST