New Delhi: The Delhi Police, on Monday, filed a 1,200-page chargesheet against 10 people in the 2016 case where a group of students and activists allegedly raised anti-India slogans in the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus, in New Delhi. Among those charged in the case are, Kanhaiya Kumar, former JNU Students’ Union president and member of All India Students Federation; Umar Khalid, former Democratic Students’ Union leader in JNU and Anirban Bhattacharya, an activist and student leader.
The others charged in the case are Aquib Hussain, Basharat, Bashir Bhat, Mujeeb Hussain, Muneeb Hussain, Rayeea Rasool and Umar Gul.
The 10 have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Section 124 A (sedition), Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), Section 465 (forgery), Section 471 (using as genuine, forged document), Section 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), Section 149 (unlawful assembly with common objective), Section 147 (rioting) and Section 120B.
Apart from the 10 charged, as many as 36 others, which includes some prominent names, like Aparajita, CPI leader D Raja’s daughter; Shehla Rashid former vice-president of JNUSU and activist; Rama Naga, JNU MPhil student and AISA member; Ashutosh Kumar, JNU student and activist and Banojyotsna Lahiri, academic and guest faculty at Ambedkar University, have been named in the chargesheet but not charged due to insufficient evidence against them.
Following Monday’s development, media quoted Kanhaiya Kumar as saying: “If the news is true that a chargesheet has been filed, I would like to thank police and Modi ji. The filing of chargesheet after three years, ahead of elections, clearly shows it to be politically motivated. I trust the judiciary of my country.”
Communist Party of India leader D Raja said, “After three years, Delhi Police filed chargesheet and slapped sedition charges against some students, which includes AISF leader Kanhaiya Kumar and some other students who belong to our student organization … Even at that time (when they were arrested in 2019), we said that these (police action) are politically motivated charges and nobody can accuse AISF for any activity against nation. There’s nothing to prove … our students can’t indulge in such activities … and govt can’t slap sedition charges on them. We’ll fight the case in the court.
On February 9, 2016, a group of JNU students and some activists held a protest vigil in the university campus against the execution of the 2001 Indian Parliament attack convict, Afzal Guru, who was hanged on the same day in 2013, and Kashmiri separatist Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged in 1986. The organizers of the event were former members of the Democratic Students Union. The event was held despite the University administration withdrawing permission for the event shortly before it was due to begin, due to protests by members of the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
The event saw clashes between various student groups.
The ABVP members in the campus reported that anti-India slogans were raised, and they even produced a few mobile-shot videos to prove their case. They alleged that they shouted slogans calling for the dismemberment of the country – “Bharat, tere honge tukde, tukde” (roughly translated: “India, you will end up in pieces and pieces.”) The slogans were criticized by many individuals, including political leaders and students of JNU.
A small group of individuals, who investigators later described as “outsiders wearing masks”, shouted “anti-India” slogans.
On February 13 – four days after the event, the Delhi Police arrested Kanhaiya Kumar after a case of “sedition” was filed against the organizers of the event. Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested soon after. They all denied the charges against them. They were later released on bail.
It was subsequently found that the videos produced by the right-wingers to support their claim against the organizers of the event as doctored.
The arrests kicked a huge political controversy as opposition leaders and civil-rights activists alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government was stifling free speech and dissent. Kumar and the others received widespread support from rights activists and left-wing organizations, including the Left parties.