NEW DELHI,AZAAN JAVAID: Hundreds of protestors, including students of Jawharlal Nehru University, youth political bodies and social activists, took out a march in the National Capital on Tuesday, demanding the release of JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya,, who are currently lodged in Tihar jail after being arrested last month on charges of sedition.
Although it was apparent that the turnout for Tuesday’s rally was far less than the previous gatherings in support of JNU students, especially that for student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, the march did see in attendance prominent faces, including CPIM leaders Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, social activists Arundhati Roy and Kavita Krishnan.
While Yechury took a dig at HRD minister Smriti Irani saying, “Now HRD doesn’t stand for Human Resource Development but for Hindu Rashtra Development, Roy while speaking with the protestors termed the JNU crisis as ‘start of revolutionary politics’.
Kanhaiya Kumar, who addressed the crowd, which after completion of the march halted at Parliament Street, led a scathing attack on the BJP government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. His speech was interrupted thrice by unidentified persons who tried to attack him before being detained by the police.
The interruption, however, was not the only highlight of Kanhaiya’s speech as the student leader noticeably did not prominently discuss Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya and was mum over the arrest of Professor SAR Geelani, who also is facing charges of sedition for allegedly organising an anti-national event.
Kanhaiya Kumar JNU student leader who himself spent almost three weeks in prison.
This march is not to save one Umar or Kanhaiya, it is for democracy and social justice,”
While Umar and Anirban featured in one of his slogans towards the end of his speech, Kanhaiya did not falter while attacking Modi and the RSS, accusing them of attempting to control Indian universities.
“We are not anti-national. We are anti RSS. We do not agree to your nationalism. They say women should get out of their homes but we want women to be self sufficient. They like to do politics over the army and have even said the business class takes more risk than army. We don’t create such binaries. We speak for the people who take risks be it the farmers, people working on footpath or soldiers,” said Kanhaiya.
While Kanhaiya was a bit cautious to discuss about others arrested for sedition, activist Arundhati Roy did not mince words while demanding and ‘unconditional release of Umar, Anirban, Geelani and Professor Sai Baba who has been arrested twice for his alleged links to banned Maoist groups.
Arundhati Roy Acclaimed author and activist
People who sell rivers and pollute the nature are nationalists in the eyes of the government but those asking questions on why rivers are being sold and resources being exploited are called anti-nationals.”
She also added that those who love their soil of this country are being called anti nationals and also said that there has to be space in the country for dissent.
“The government has to answer that what was wrong about the murder of Afzal Guru,” she said.
Yechury targeted Irani in his speech and said that he would always support JNU in its struggle.
Sitaram Yechury. A leader of the Communist Party of India.
We asked Smriti Iraniji what does HRD mean. She was surprised. And then we told her that her ministry no longer is human resource development but Hindu Rashtra development,”
Syed Qasim, father of Umar Khalid, who was accompanied to the protest by his daughters and wife, made an emotional plea in front of the gathered crowd and thanked them for supporting his son.