New Delhi: Eminent scientists and writers from across the world, including renowned thinker Noam Chomsky and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, have joined the chorus of protest against the arrest of JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar in a sedition case.
A statement signed by 86 academicians from renowned universities abroad condemns "the culture of authoritarian menace that the present government in India has generated" and said those in power are replicating the dark times of an oppressive colonial period and of the Emergency of the mid-1970s.
"We have learnt of the shameful act of the Indian government which, invoking sedition laws formulated by India's colonial rulers, ordered the police to enter the JNU campus and unlawfully arrest a student leader,
Kanhaiya Kumar, on charges of inciting violence -- without any proof whatever of such wrongdoing on his part," the statement said.
"Kumar, whose speech (widely available in a video) cannot in any way be connected with the slogans uttered on the previous day, was nonetheless arrested for 'anti-national' behaviour and for violating the sedition laws against the incitement to violence," it added.
The statement also condemned police's action in this matter, saying it had brought "great dishonour" to the government.
The academicians urged "all those genuinely concerned about the future of India and Indian universities to protest in wide mobilisation against it".
"Since there is no evidence to establish these charges, we can only conclude that this arrest is further evidence of the present government's deeply authoritarian nature, intolerant of any dissent, setting aside India's long-standing commitment to toleration and plurality of opinion, replicating the dark times of an oppressive colonial period and briefly of the emergency in the mid-1970s," it said.
The JNU students' union president was arrested last week in connection with a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy that was registered following an event on the varsity campus to protest against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-India slogans were allegedly raised.