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Uneasy calm as JNU rallies behind 5 students

Uneasy calm as JNU rallies behind 5 students
The students said that they did nothing wrong but were being framed using a “doctored video”.

A team of police officials from the South district have been camping outside the university campus since Sunday night. The police officials said that they were continuously in touch with the Vice-Chancellor and asking him to direct the students to surrender. The students maintained that ‘they will not surrender but police can come and arrest them’.

The five students Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Anant Prakash had gone missing from campus since February 12 after JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested in a sedition case in connection with “anti-national slogans” allegedly raised at an event held on campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Upon return, Khalid was seen addressing over 200 students in the Administration block of the campus as a night-long vigil was held. Police teams have been positioned outside the University and have been asked to wait for the students to surrender themselves.

Meanwhile, JNU Vice-Chancellor Jagdesh Kumar said, the entry for police as well as media persons has been barred for now and a call in this regard will be taken soon.

Umar Khalid denied that he had any terrorist links, while Anirban maintained that it was the look-out notice issued by police which made him decide to come back.

“I am disturbed at the way I have been attacked and I am also angry at the comments posted against my sister on social media,” Khalid said.

Ashutosh, former president of JNU students union and a PhD scholar at varsity’s School of International studies said, “We didn’t do anything wrong but were being framed using doctored video. We will not go anywhere now and will be part of the movement against the branding of university as anti-national.”

JNU students and teachers on Monday appealed to the Vice-Chancellor to take a stand in favour of the five students who were being looked for by the police in a sedition case and have now surfaced on the campus after being on the run for over 10 days.

“The students were in hiding because they feared mob- lynching and have returned when (they) believed that some normalcy returned on the campus. We want the university V-C to take a stand like Jadavpur University and AMU that police will not come on campus,” JNU students’ union vice-president Shehla Rashid Shora said while addressing a press conference here.

“The V-C should also demand from Delhi Police that all charges against the students be dropped as it vitiates academic atmosphere,” she said, adding a letter has been submitted to the V-C in this regard. The students union also said the administration has not approached them for a meeting.

“If they want us to share responsibility of handing over these students to police, we will not abide by that,” she added.

The JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) in an emergent meeting held on Monday passed a resolution demanding that the “internal mechanism of the university should be allowed to work but only after re-construction of the inquiry panel.”

“We also appeal the administration to maintain a conducive atmosphere to help students appear before the panel.” 

Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) president Ajay Patnaik told reporters, “Even legal luminaries have said that the sedition charge cannot be imposed frivolously, that too on students for mere shouting of slogans. We want the university to take a stand and get these charges dropped.” 

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said police officers looking into the matter would take a call on the situation.

“The police will take a call, and will speak to the JNU authorities. If police go directly into the university, they will say that police have not sought permission from the university authorities. Police will take appropriate action at appropriate time, being a minister it’s not good for me to give details in advance,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, Delhi Police chief Bassi said if the students were innocent, they should produce evidence.

"Police are looking for them, they should join the investigation. If they are innocent, they should produce evidence of their innocence."

While a section of the media ( both television and print)  are allegedly being targeted over their reports on the campus row, some voluntarily quit because the ‘biased coverage’ pricked their conscience.

A producer with Hindi television channel Zee News quit on Sunday protesting against the coverage of the JNU row by the channel.

Cops visited the home of a NDTV reporter on Sunday who was covering the JNU events and quizzed his brother. On Monday, too, there were reports of journalists in touch with these JNU students being ‘questioned’.
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