PUDR strongly condemns the shocking acts of physical violence and abuse perpetrated by 40 advocates and BJP MLA OP Sharma against students and faculty of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and media persons today, at the Patiala House court, in full presence of the police. Students, teachers and media persons had gathered as arrested JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar was to be produced in court.
An hour before Kanhaiya was to be produced, a mob of 40 lawyers descended on those present, threatening them to leave, or risk facing violence. Following this, the mob then proceeded to assault, molest and abuse the faculty, students and media persons. Outside the court premises, BJP MLA OP Sharma was also found mercilessly beating up an unidentified man. The incidents have been recorded on camera.
Furthermore, personnel from the Delhi police present at the scene added their weight behind the vigilantes asking the students, faculty and media-persons to leave, and later standing by as the hooliganism unfolded. Subsequently, the IG Delhi Police has passed the incidents off as minor scuffles, despite video evidence to the contrary. PUDR strongly condemns this partisan behaviour of the Delhi Police, and its dereliction of duty in not maintaining law and order and protecting peacefully assembled people against hooliganism.
The outcome of these events has been that Kanhaiya Kumar’s remand has been extended by two days- a fact that has been overtaken by the fracas at the Court. Media reports suggest that this attack was pre-planned, with messages having been circulated among Patiala House Bar Association members on WhatsApp the previous day, to teach those from JNU 'a lesson in nationalism’. The same day, the Home Minister linked the JNU incidents with the Lashkar-e-Toiba based on a fake Twitter account of Hafeez Sayeed, thus using the authority of his office to vitiate the atmosphere, and load it against Kanhaiya.
The arrest of Kanhaiya, the hounding of students on allegations of sedition, the blatant militarization of the JNU campus, and the patently partisan attitude of the Delhi police, is an abuse of law and constitutional freedoms of all citizens. PUDR stands firm in its opposition to the criminalization of dissent through the colonial-era law on sedition.
While looking to the Courts to stand by the Constitution and safeguard the rights of citizens, and stop this undeclared emergency, we demand that:
- All those involved in the act of violence be prosecuted as per law
- Kanhaiya Kumar be released immediately and unconditionally
- FIRs against students alleging sedition be quashed immediately
- Police and other armed forces be immediately removed from JNU campus.
Moushumi Basu, Deepika Tandon
Secretaries, PUDR ([email protected])
15th February, 2016