ABVP members held demonstrations against the protests in JNU in Delhi. (PTI photo)
New Delhi: The row over an event at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to protest Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's execution escalated on Saturday with former army officers threatening to return their degrees from the institution. At least eight students have been debarred from academic activities pending a disciplinary inquiry and a union leader arrested. On Friday, president of JNU's students' union and an activist of a Left-linked group, Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on sedition charge.
Left leaders today met Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss the situation on JNU campus. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, "the action against JNU student on sedition charges is completely wrong and the government is trying to propagate RSS ideology".
Mr Yechury said the students named by police in a list of accused were not the ones shouting anti-India slogans and police should show the evidence, adding that the Home Minister assured the delegation of Left leaders that no innocent person will be harassed. Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi also met the Home Minister on the JNU stand-off. The police has submitted a status report to the Home Ministry.
The Delhi Police has written a letter to the JNU vice-chancellor asking the university to produce five students, other than Kanhaiya Kumar who is already in police custody. The letter says the students were involved in "anti-national" activities and that the university authorities should alert the police on such activities in the future, allow them to film the incidents and take action. Meanwhile, police have detained seven more students who were protesting at Indira Gandhi international center.
Eight students, who have been debarred based on the interim report of the "disciplinary" committee formed earlier this week to probe the involvement of students in the event, will be allowed to stay in their respective hostels to enable them to represent their stand for a fair investigation, according to news agency PTI . The university, however, did not identify the eight students.
After Kanhaiya's arrest, teachers and students protested outside the Vice Chancellor's office, demanding to know why students were being treated like "terrorists" and picked up from campus by plainclothesmen. A rival group of students belonging to the ABVP protested near the India Gate in the heart of Delhi.
"JNU has always been a university where there has been a vibrant culture. Excessive police action is uncalled for and has worsened the situation," professors said in a statement.
The university claims it cancelled permission for the Afzal Guru event, which was allegedly pitched as a cultural function. Vice-Chancellor Jagdeesh Kumar has called it an act of indiscipline.