NEW DELHI: A late-night standoff unfolded in Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University on Monday as around six students, accused of sedition and missing for days, surfaced on the campus.
Police who hope to arrest the students were denied entry and said they were unwilling to force their way in.
Five students, who were on the run from the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus since February 12 including Umar Khalid, are now back. Ashutosh, Anant Prakash Narayan, Rama Naga, Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid are now back on the campus and among the student protesters at the administrative block.
Among the students who were back was Umar Khalid – described as the chief organiser of a controversial event on February 9 in support of executed Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, during which anti-India slogans were raised. Addressing the protesting students, Mr Khalid said the charges against him were ridiculous and he has no links with any terrorist organisation.
“Comments against my sister on social media have angered me. I am disturbed by th way I have been attacked,” he said addressing the students.
“We were afraid there would be mob attack and the police were going from room to room to check. The media trial — targetting us and branding us as ‘anti-nationals’ and terrorists — was also worrying us,” Ashustosh said. Narayan, a former JNUSU vice-president and Rama Naga, the present general secretary, are also from AISA. Bhattacharya and Khalid are former members of Democratic Students’ Union.
Ashutosh said the students were in Delhi itself and that the decision to return on Sunday evening had been taken individually and not collectively. “We didn’t do anything wrong but were been framed using doctored video. When we saw people rising up in our support, thousands of students marching for us, we got the strength to return,” he said.
Their return doesn’t change much where the university’s position is concerned. The five remain suspended. Ashutosh intends to join the andolan — the campaign to restore to JNU the space for “students to speak their mind, express opinions and dissent.” “That has been completely crushed. We are innocent students who wanted to express our views. The administration allowed the police in without resistance; the police have been working as RSS agents. We have to expand and step up our fight.”
The committee the university has established to inquire into the February 9 incident is a problem. “It has to be broadened. There are no women, no-one from the SC-ST or OBC castes. I am an OBC, Rama and Anant are both SC students. How can we depose before such a committee?”