JNU row: 'Men in Black' at it again

Feb 18, 2016, 02:09 IST | Amit Kumar

In open defiance of a Supreme Court order, a group of lawyers attacked media persons once again and roughed up JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar

New Delhi: The JNU case took a murkier turn with another scuffle in the Patiala House court premises when two groups of lawyers clashed.  Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student union president Kanhaiya Kumar (28), who was brought to the court for appearance on charges of sedition case filed against him by Delhi Police, was also roughed up. What has made the situation worse is that the Supreme Court, which had asked for intense scrutiny within the court premises, later commented, "We are concerned about the law and order situation".

A lawyer, (center) who spoke to the media in support of student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, was beaten up by other lawyers outside Patiala House Court

After senior lawyers informed the apex court that they faced abusive slogans and had to take refuge in the courtroom, the apex court had to rush a team of six lawyers including Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhawan with police protection to assess the ground situation at Patiala House Court. While the SC will now hear the Kanhaiya case on February 22, it will take up the Patiala Court incidents today.

Serious threat to safety
The scuffle started when one group of lawyers started shouting slogans "Bharat Mata Ki Jay" and "Pakistan Murdabad", while the other group shouted slogans in support of Kumar.

Vikram Chauhan, a lawyer who has not been arrested despite attacking people on Monday, was at the center of Wednesday's chaos as well. "People who said 'Pakistan Zindabad' have been made heroes and we are being called 'goons," he said.

JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar has been remanded in judicial custody till March 2. PICS/PTI
JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar has been remanded in judicial custody till March 2. Pics/PTI

"Despite the presence of police, clashes erupted in the court complex. The cops' presence did not discourage the lawyers from shouting slogans and attacking journalists," said Santosh Kumar Mishra, a lawyer at Patiala Court.

Acting on a petition filed on February 15, the Supreme Court had, earlier in the day, restricted the number of people inside the courtroom, allowing only five reporters and two supporters of the arrested students to attend the hearing. The journalists had also sought the SC's intervention in protecting freedom of speech.

Kanhaiya was arrested in a sedition case after an event was held at JNU on February 9 where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

Police detain a member of National Students Union of India during a protest
Police detain a member of National Students Union of India during a protest

Surprisingly, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said if Kanhaiya applies for bail, the police will not object to it, he however mentioned that there is adequate evidence against Kanhaiya in the sedition case. Kanhaiya, who was later remanded to judicial custody till March 2, was taken from Patiala House Court complex to Tihar Jail after being confined to the courtroom for nearly three hours owing to the siege by the lawyers.

Bassi however denied that Kanhaiya was beaten up and defended the handling of the situation, saying use of "heavy force" against lawyers would have been counter-productive and inappropriate. "We managed the situation. Though there was some jostling, but I do not think he was beaten up," Bassi said.

Bassi said three lawyers including VK Chauhan and BJP MLA OP Sharma have been summoned for questioning for Monday's violence in which a group of lawyers had attacked journalists, JNU students and teachers.

'I am an Indian'
Kanhaiya told the court that he is an Indian who has full faith in the judiciary and the Constitution, a statement the police latched on to say that it will not oppose his bail. "I have said it earlier too. I am an Indian. I have full faith in the Constitution as well as the judiciary of the country," Kanhaiya told metropolitan magistrate Lovleen when he was produced for remand proceedings.

While Congress termed the incident as Jungle Raj prevailing in the national capital, BJP has decided to strongly put forth its stand and launch a three-day 'Jan Swabhimaan Abhiyan'.  

Scores of Indian Youth Congress and NSUI workers were detained by police, as they attempted to march from the IYC headquarters to the Prime Minister's Office to protest the police crackdown on JNU campus in the wake of a controversial event in the campus.

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi claimed the fight over an "anti-national" event at JNU is between "Break India and Build India". Naqvi said that Congress and some other political parties are now misusing educational institutes for their narrow political interests.

Parliament session
According to sources, the upcoming budget session of Parliament will witness the impact of JNU incident. A senior BJP leader said a decision has been taken to raise the Jawaharlal Nehru University row "very aggressively" in Parliament in next week's Budget Session.

 Meanwhile, former JNU students have initiated an online signature campaign to save the image of the premier university. "We, as the Ex-JNUites are deeply hurt by the incident and the irresponsible actions by certain vested interests to politicise the issue. It has sent a wrong message to the people," said Dr Shiv Shakti Bakshi, former JNU student.

On Wednesday, a delegation of former office bearers of Delhi University Student Unio (DUSU) submitted a memorandum to the Lt Governor of Delhi and requested him to inquire into the incidents in the campus of JNU from February 9 till date. "We have requested the Lt Governor to take such steps so that teaching in JNU is started again," said Delhi state BJP President Satish Upadhyay, who was Vice President of DUSU in 1982.

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