JNU row: Protests in several cities, Kanhaiya Kumar moves SC for bail; Opposition petitions President
JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested for sedition, on Thursday moved the Supreme Court for bail.
New Delhi: JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested for sedition, on Thursday moved the Supreme Court for bail as students rallied in support across the country and the Opposition took the row to President Pranab Mukherjee.
A Supreme Court bench led by Justices J Chelameswar and Abhay Manohar Sapre said Kumar's plea will be heard on Friday morning.
His lawyer Vrinda Grover told the judges that the atmosphere in the Patiala House Courts, where the accused was allegedly assaulted by a group of lawyers, was not conducive for moving the bail application.
She said Kumar was invoking his fundamental right under Article 32 by moving the Supreme court for bail.
The 28-year-old student leader was arrested on February 12 for allegedly raising anti-national slogans at the JNU event three days earlier against the 2013 execution of Afzal Guru, the Kashmiri militant blamed for the terror attack on Indian parliament in 2001.
Kumar has denied the charges.
Protests erupt in several cities
The bail plea came as the JNU issue sparked student protests in Delhi, West Bengal, Bihar and Karnataka with protestors demanding Kumar's release and dropping of sedition charges against him.
Thousands of people from colleges, universities and civil society took out a march in Delhi to protest the police action at JNU and demanded immediate release of Kumar.
Holding placards bearing incisive messages and shouting slogans like "Long Live JNU", the protesters marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar.
Tamil folk-singer Kovan was among 57 people detained in Chennai during a protest march taken out against the arrest and attack of Kumar in Patiala House court in Delhi. The protesters raised slogans against the Modi government, as per PTI.
Posters in support of JNU students opposing the arrest of Kumar were also found at University of Baroda in Vadodara even as the escalating JNU row echoed in Kerala Assembly.
In Hyderabad, a section of students belonging to the University of Hyderabad, which had witnessed a turmoil over the suicide of dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula last month, boycotted classes and took out a march on the varsity campus expressing solidarity with the agitating JNU students.
Amid chanting of 'Vande Mataram' slogans, members of ABVP, the student outfit of RSS, took out marches in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata, demanding action against 'anti-national' elements in Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) in the national capital. They organised a "Nation First Tricolour March" in Bengaluru.
Student leaders of CPI's student wing AISF and workers of RJD's youth wing clashed with BJP workers outside the BJP office in Patna over arrest of Kumar, who hails from Bihar.
In Chennai, the protesters were part of cultural outfit Makkal Kalai Ilakiya Kazhagam, Revolutionary Students' Youth Front (RSYS) and five other student organisations. They were also protesting against ABVP, the student wing of RSS.
They were picked up by the police within 15 minutes of the protest. They were protesting in front of Shastri Bhavan in Nungambakkam.
Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal meet President
Kumar, the first president of the JNU Students Union from the CPI-affiliated AISF, drew support from the Congress, Left and Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party which denounced the government for "high handedness".
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders told President Mukherjee that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying to impose a "flawed" and "dead" ideology of the RSS on the student community.
"It is not the government's job to destroy institutions. This nation will prosper because of our students' imagination. Imposing an ideology on them will not benefit the nation," he told reporters, as per IANS.
Gandhi said Kumar's arrest for sedition and the violence witnessed at the Patiala House Courts here on Monday and Wednesday had sent out "bad signals" about India and damaged its global image.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also met the President and blamed the central government for the violence in the Patiala House Courts.
Kejriwal said Delhi Police would not have remained silent during the violence if they were not directed to do so.
"Delhi Police is a uniformed force... If its master says don't do anything, they won't do anything. If the master tells them to shoot, they will shoot," Kejriwal said. "Their master is (the) central government... This is the dictatorship of the prime minister (Modi)."
Kanhaiya Kumar was not attacked in court: BS Bassi
Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi, however, denied that Kumar was assaulted in the court on Wednesday and justified the sedition charge. He said police had evidence to prove this.
"Free speech does not mean you can violate the... Constitution," he told CNN-IBN.
"(I) deny that Kahaniya was assaulted, my officers are denying this, medical examination has been done," Bassi added.
The police chief, who retires on February 29, said Kanhaiya Kumar was guilty of sedition and that the police had enough material to prove this.
(With Agency inputs)