Events being triggered from the JNU campus last week are leaving the country in turmoil. It is unlikely that even an interim calm can be restored unless Kanhaiya Kumar, the student union president who has been thrown into jail on the charge of sedition, is honourably set free. Even the report of the police now appears to suggest that he had not made any so-called “anti-national” speech, not that such a speech category exists in our laws.
If anything, the impassioned and well-rounded speech Mr Kumar made when some others were raising offensive slogans was in defence of the Indian Constitution, and was in the nature of throwing a challenge to the idea of nationalism embedded in Hindutva. This was in keeping with his CPI affiliation. Nevertheless, last Tuesday, JNU students and teachers, as well as Delhi journalists, were physically assaulted by a group of BJP-oriented lawyers at the Patiala House court where they had peacefully assembled in connection with the sedition case, and the police mutely looked on.
A Delhi BJP MLA was also among the assaulters, who were encouraged by the police’s inaction. The following day, Mr Kumar was himself badly beaten up by the Hindutva-oriented goon squad of lawyers when he was brought by the police to appear before the court. The police had been admonished by the Supreme Court in light of the previous day’s event and charged with maintaining order in the district court premises. But it remained impassive as BJP’s goons ran amok. A committee of top-notch lawyers sent by the Supreme Court to Patiala House courts for a report were also showered with abuse and chased away by the Hindutva lawyers.
These shameful happenings were taking place in the heart of New Delhi, a stone’s throw from Parliament House. From the first day when trouble erupted in JNU until the physical attack on Mr Kumar, the police has given the impression of doing the bidding of the BJP government at the Centre. Eventually, the Supreme Court said Mr Kumar’s safety in Tihar jail would be the personal responsibility of Delhi police commissioner B.S. Bassi, whose conduct so far suggests that his agenda is to ingratiate himself with his political masters.
So repugnant to the idea of civilised debate on nationalism have recent goings-on been that three leaders of the ABVP, RSS’ student wing, in JNU have resigned in protest. They have asked some basic questions. Meanwhile, unrestrained by any sense of political morality, a Delhi BJP MP has called for the removal of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, CPI leader D. Raja and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury from Parliament for supporting “anti-national” students. On the same ground, a Rajasthan BJP MLA has asked for Mr Gandhi to be “hanged” and “shot”. Why is the BJP leadership silent?