Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that by attempting to stifle those voices which are not in line with its views, the government has only succeeded in making them stronger.
“They do not understand that by crushing you they are making you stronger. They are terrified of weak Indian people raising their voice,” Gandhi said at the JNU campus in New Delhi. “I tell you,there are more than billion people in country who believe what you believe in and standing right behind you,” he said.
The Congress second-in-command visited the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus to express solidarity with students and teachers who are protesting against the arrest of JNU Students’ Union Kanhaiya Kumar on Friday on charges of sedition.
However, the Congress vice president was angrily greeted by members of the BJP students’ wing—AVBP—with black flags who vociferously resorted to slogans like Rahul Gandhi wapas jao.
The campus has been on the boil since Friday, when a student was arrested for organizing a protest against the execution of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The row has turned into war of words between the BJP-led government and some opposition parties.
Here is Latest Developments:
- Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi addressed the protesting students on Saturday evening. “People who suppress the voice of this institution are anti-national,” he said.
- Left leaders met Home Minister Rajnath Singh today regarding the issue. CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said police action against JNU student on sedition charges is “completely wrong” and “the government is trying to propagate RSS ideology”.
- Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “Male policemen can’t raid girls’ hostels in the name of anti-national activities. This is an attempt to terrorise students.”
- The BJP reacted sharply. Party spokesperson Anil Balooni said the Left leaders were siding with those “who stand with Pakistan.” Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said, “These students are not school-children. What they did was well thought out.”
- Rajnath Singh told the Left leaders that no innocent person will be harassed. Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi also met the Home Minister. The Delhi Police has written to the JNU vice-chancellor asking the university to produce the five students other than Kanhaiya Kumar, who were taking part in the protests on Afzhal Guru.
- Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the JNU students’ union and an activist of a Left-linked group, who was present at the programme on Afzhal Guru, was arrested on Friday. He has been charged with sedition and conspiracy, and remanded in police custody for three days.
- At least eight students have been debarred from academic activities pending a disciplinary inquiry. Upset with the arrest and the heavy police presence on the campus, the faculty has expressed concern over the “threat to democratic ethos.”
- Former Army officers have reportedly threatened to return their JNU degrees citing “anti- national activities on campus”.
- After Kanhaiya’s arrest, teachers and students protested outside the Vice Chancellor’s office, asking 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.
Here is what Rahul Gandhi said at JNU:
People who showed black flag on my face, I feel proud that in my country they have the right to show black flag in front of my face
They are terrified of weak Indian people raising their voice
They do not understand that by crushing you they are making you stronger
A youngster expressed himself and the government says he is an anti-national
The most anti-national people are the people who are suppressing the voice of this institution
I was in Hyderabad a few days back and these same people or their leaders said that Rohith Vemula was an anti-national.
Rahul Gandhi had said Modi government “bullying” an institution like JNU was “completely condemnable”, but at the same time asserted that anti-India sentiment is “unquestionably unacceptable”.
Despite the dramatic protests, the Congress vice president was able to address the students albeit for a very short time.
“What is anti-national? The most anti-national people are the people who are suppressing the voice of this institution. You must question them at every single step,” Gandhi said. “A youngster expressed himself and the government says he is an anti-national.”
Gandhi also took on the AVBP workers who waved black flags at him while entering the campus.
“People who showed black flag on my face, I feel proud that in my country they have the right to show black flag in front of my face,” the Congress vice president said.
Comparing the JNU incident with Rohith Vemula’s suicide in the Hyderabad Central University recently, Gandhi said, “I was in Hyderabad a few days back and these same people or their leaders said that Rohith Vemula was an anti-national.”
He even took potshots at External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. “Later, a minister turns around and says he was not even a Dalit. Sushma Swarajji nobody askd whether he was Dalit or not. Ques is why wasn’t Indian students allowed to say and fight for what he believes?”
Kumar was arrested and later remanded to three-day police custody by a local court, a day after police filed a sedition and criminal conspiracy case against him on complaints from BJP MP Maheish Girri and ABVP members.
A meeting was organised on Tuesday on the JNU campus where a group of students mourned the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) co-founder Maqbool Bhat and shouted anti-India slogans.