Kanhaiya Kumar, who gained immense popularity overnight has managed to be the voice of the youth and is also reportedly considered as one of the major reasons for BJP’s defeat during the assembly polls in the Hindi heartland states. With the nearing of Lok Sabha elections, the ruling government is making rigorous efforts to shut all the voices that can create a strong impact against the vote bank of the party. Almost after three years, the Modi government has again used the police to distract attention by filing a chargesheet against former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar and nine others in a sedition case for allegedly raising ‘anti-national slogans’ during an event to commemorate the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru on the JNU campus in February 2016.
Social Activist Anil Prakash expressed, “Chargesheet against Kanhaiya Kumar is solely politically motivated; neither the investigative agencies in the last three years have filed a single chargesheet nor they have any evidence against him, why are they brewing this issue again before the general elections?”
He further added, “The entire country is in an election-spree and as the government has nothing more to talk against Kanhaiya Kumar, to keep him out of contesting polls or campaigning before the 2019 polls, all these are calculated conspiracies. The central government’s list of achievement in the last four and half years is empty. Moreover, their image is maligned with the CBI vs CBI case, Rafale scam and many more. If activists are pointing fingers at the Modi government’s failures, BJP is putting all its efforts to suppress their voice!”
Delhi Police on Monday filed a 12,000 page chargesheet and claimed that they have evidence to proceed against 10 former students of JNU, including Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, and seven students from Jammu and Kashmir – Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain, Muneeb Hussain, Umar Gul, Rayeea Rassol, Bashir Bhat, and Basharat. Questioning the timing of the charges that came nearly after three years, just a few months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Kumar claimed this chargesheet to be “politically motivated”. The chargesheet also contains CCTV footage, mobile footage, and documentary evidence. The police have alleged that Kumar had incited the mob to shout anti-India slogans.
The accused have been charged with offences under sections 124A (sedition), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 465 (punishment for forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 143 (punishment for being a member of an unlawful assembly), 149 (being a member of an unlawful assembly), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
As many as 36 others, including Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja’s daughter Aprajita, Shehla Rashid (then vice-president of the JNUSU), Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Banojyotsna Lahiri have been named in column 12 of the chargesheet due to insufficient evidence against them, police sources said.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been showing disgrace towards the chargesheet filed against seven Jammu and Kashmir students stating it is as a strategy for the vote bank ahead of the elections. However, Mufti also condemned the act to hang Afzal Guru for the political benefits just prior to the 2014 elections. “No surprises here. We are months away from the 2019 general election and like always, using Kashmiris to score extra political points with the Indian electorate has become somewhat of a prerequisite,” the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mufti said in a series of tweets. “Timing of the chargesheet couldn’t be any more suspicious. When the UPA was in power, it decided to send Afzal Guru to the gallows and to this day, J&K is paying a price,” she tweeted.
Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, BJP Rajya Sabha MP said, “Police is investigating the cases against the former JNU Students’ Union leaders since the incident happened in JNU and the police have come to a conclusion, the court has decided that there should be a chargesheet filed against the leaders and we have to go by the judiciary. The investigative agencies have done their work very efficiently. The Left parties and Congress should not politicise the matter and must accept the judicial order. Whoever is supporting Kanhaiya Kumar should understand whether they want the nation to be united or broken into pieces!”
Reportedly, Kanhaiya Kumar is likely to contest as a candidate of a Mahagathbandhan comprising the RJD, the Left parties and the Congress in the Begusarai constituency. Earlier, in October, Kanhaiya made his political debut at CPI’s anti-BJP rally where he gave his first political speech from the party platform and acknowledged that there was no single party that could defeat the BJP and urged all Opposition parties to unite for the purpose. However, he was attacked while he was returning from a political campaign aimed at motivating people to join the CPI’s proposed massive rally on October 25 in Patna. “The BJP sees Kanhaiya Kumar as a potential threat”, CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy slammed the ruling government after the attack. He also alleged the attack as an attempt to kill Kanhaiya.
In a conversation with AV, Senior CPI(M) leader and former MP Brinda Karat said, “The Delhi Police filed chargesheet naming student activists Kanhaiya Kumar in a sedition case from 2016 and it seems surprising how the present government has failed to gather and show evidence against all the student activists. All the charges against them are wrong. If they would’ve been guilty, why did the national investigating agencies take so much time to work on it? I wonder the state of national security! Whoever is speaking against the government is either being pushed behind the bar or their voices are being suppressed.”
It is believed that amongst several factors that came into play in BJP’s defeat especially at Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the assembly elections, one of them being Gujarat MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani’s relentless campaigning in these states to sway the voters against the ruling party. Mevani campaigned extensively in MP and Rajasthan, holding about 50 rallies addressing people not to vote for the BJP. Though he never asked the voters to vote for any specific party, the idea was to dethrone the saffron party from power in these states.
In recent years, there have been many instances of the state governments seeking to silence all those political dissenters by accusing them of promoting disaffection. The mere expression of critical views, howsoever scathing, cannot be an excuse for accusing someone of planning to wage war or promote disaffection against the government.
Congress National spokesperson Ragini Nayak stated, “BJP is misusing all the independent agencies in the country to favour their political mileage — nobody is spared, be it CVC, CBI or the Supreme Court judges! The BJP leaders themselves believe that there’s an emergency-like situation prevailing in the country. In the last three years, the police failed to bring out any evidence against Kanhaiya Kumar and others; all of a sudden, before the 2019 election, coming up with accusations definitely prompts suspicion on the intention of the central government. Nobody can stop Kanhaiya Kumar from campaigning in the upcoming elections and there is also a possibility of him contesting in the polls.”