The IT engineer accused of assaulting Kanhaiya Kumar said he had merely touched him but was being dragged into the assault case for cheap publicity; denies any connection with the BJP
Kanhaiya Kumar's exit from Mumbai was just as tumultuous as the days leading up to his arrival and maiden speech in the city. A day after he addressed over 1,500 students in Mumbai and spoke of a student movement against the ruling party at the Centre, the firebrand student leader alleged that a 'BJP supporter' attacked him on the flight to Pune.
Manas Jyoti Deka said he had nothing to do with the BJP. Pic/Suresh KK
However, the alleged assaulter — Manas Jyoti Deka — denied all of this and said he had no connections with the BJP and was merely a software engineer on his way to Pune for a work assignment.
"Am I mad to strangle a person onboard a flight in front of everybody?" he exclaimed.
Kanhaiya's tweets about the incident yesterday
The altercation between the two took place on the Jet Airways flight to Pune, where Kanhaiya was headed to address another student gathering at Balgandharva Rangmandir last evening. They had all boarded the flight when an argument broke out between them, and Manas allegedly assaulted Kanhaiya.
According to a senior police official from Vile Parle police station, where cross-complaints were filed, there was an argument between Manas and Kanhaiya. "The person accused of assaulting Kanhaiya was travelling on the same flight from Kolkata to Pune. The flight had a stopover in Mumbai where Kanhaiya boarded it. Deka, who had a window seat, was trying to get into the aisle and that is when he happened to touch Kanhaiya. This sparked the argument," said the official, adding that statements from both parties had been recorded.
The student leader from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) immediately tweeted about it, saying: Yet again, this time inside the aircraft, a man tries to strangulate me."
Jet Airways decided to ask everybody involved in the argument to deplane. They were all taken to the CISF control room at the international airport and the matter was then handed over to the Vile Parle police. Kanhaiya was forced to travel to Pune by road.
A non-cognisable offence (NC) was filed against Manas on the charge of assault, but he kept repeating to the media outside that there had been no assault. The 33-year-old later lodged a cross-complaint against a group of eight people, alleging that they misbehaved with him and threatened him inside the plane, said a senior IPS officer, adding that Manas did not mention Kanhaiya's name in his NC.
"There was no assault. All this is being dragged out for publicity. I have an injury in my right leg. While coming out from my seat to the aisle, I happened to touch Kanhaiya for support. At that very moment we smiled at each other. Suddenly, a person from his group wearing a white shirt started shouting that I am assaulting him. Then even Kanhaiya joined his friend's cries. They started demanding that I should get off the airplane. I just insisted that if I am made to get off the airplane, all of them should do the same," said Manas, who works at TCS as a software developer.
"I was on that flight because our company was sending my team to Pune from Kolkata. Why would I indulge in any such act when I am travelling on a flight paid for by my company? There were many others from my company on the flight for same purpose," he added.
When asked about connections to the BJP, Manas reiterated, "I am a software developer. None of my family members have any connection with BJP."
But national president of the All India Students Federation (AISF), Vali Ullah Khadri insisted, "He is lying. We had noticed that he was looking for Kanhaiya and was simultaneously talking on the phone about finding him. There is no doubt that he tried to kill Kanhaiya."
Following the incident, Jet Airways had issued a statement which reads, 'Some guests on board Jet Airways flight 9W618 Mumbai to Pune have been offloaded at Mumbai airport in the interest of operational safety. At Jet Airways, the safety and security of our guests and crew is always of prime importance.'
Joint Commissioner of Police (law and order) Deven Bharti said, "We asked Kanhaiya to file a complaint but he did not. His friend lodged a NC. We also asked him to do a medical test but he did not listen to us."