Two months after they were sent to jail on charges of sedition, the JNU on Monday fined student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and rusticated three students for taking part in an event to commemorate parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. While Kanhaiya Kumar, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) president, was fined Rs 10,000, Anirban Bhattacharya was rusticated till July 15 and barred from the university from July 25 for five years. He can submit his Phd during the July 15-25 period.
Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid will lose a semester of their academic session while Mujeeb Gattoo, another student, has been suspended for two semesters, an order from the university proctor said. Khalid also must cough up Rs 20,000 in fine by May 13.
Ten other students were also fined varying amounts, including one from the ABVP on charges of obstructing traffic in the campus.
Bhattacharya, Khalid and Gattoo were accused of taking part in a meeting on February 9 in the campus where “objectionable slogans” were raised, which the order said demanded “stringent punishment”.
The university said the organisers showed defiance by holding the meeting against the wishes of the administration.
“The committee has recommended rustication/fine for three students, withdrawal of hostel facilities/financial penalty for two students and only financial penalty for 14 students. Two former JNU students, moreover, have been declared out of bounds,” a university statement said.
The statement said Khalid, Bhattacharya and Gattoo were found guilty of staging a protest under the pretext of holding a poetry reading of “A Country Without a Post Office”, a collection of the late Agha Shahid Ali, a Kashmiri poet.
The action comes after a five-member panel probed the February 9 event that sparked off nationwide protests for and against Kanhaiya Kumar and others as they were jailed after being arrested on sedition charges.
Kanhaiya Kumar was also attacked when he was produced in a court here.
Khalid said the university had declared its “allegiance to RSS” by punishing the students. “A farce is what this enquiry has been… made to witch hunt and punish students by hook or crook,” he said on Facebook.
“Do we need to remind you, Jagdish Kumar, that unlike you, the students and teachers of this campus are not plaint stooges of the RSS?” he wrote, addressing the university vice chancellor.
“The punishments are not acceptable. Get ready for a fight back.”
On the other hand, the ABVP said the quantum of punishment was “a great disappointment” and accused the university of surrendering to “anti-India section of JNUTA as well as leftist student organisations”.
Kanhaiya Kumar is the first JNU Students Union president from the CPI-affiliated AISF. The JNU Teachers Association largely stood by the students during the university crackdown.
On the basis of videos aired by certain news channels, Delhi Police had then accused Kanhaiya Kumar and others of raising anti-India slogans.
The police repeatedly claimed they had evidence against the students but failed to produce it in court, leading to their release from jail on bail.
Monday’s action by the JNU came on a day when a court in Delhi fixed May 26 for considering a complaint against three news channels which the Delhi government alleged ran doctored videos of the JNU meeting.