By Shishir Tripathi
For the past few weeks, the admin block of Jawaharlal Nehru University has been ringing with slogans and calls for Kanhaiya Kumar to be freed. That block had become a deserted spot for a while now; the messages in support of Kanhaiya and his fellow accused students are only in the form of posters pasted on a wall below a lamp post. These messages are from world-renowned personalities like Noam Chomsky, Homi K Bhabha and Akeel Bilgrami. However, once news of Kanhaiya being granted interim bail of six months came out, a few students begin to gather at JNU, their faces shining with joy.
“After all, justice has been done. I am happy that Kanhaiya got bail. True nationalist wins half the battle against so-called Hindutva forces,” says Sangharsh Telang, a student at the campus.
Students here are eagerly waiting for him to return to campus and share his experience. “We are very excited to hear about his bail. We expect that justice would be done to him and the draconian sedition charge be dropped as well. The youth wants public leaders like him, who fight for the right cause. We are proud of Kanhaiya,” says another student.
Still, there are some who feel the fight is far from over. “Kanhaiya got bail and we are relieved; but the struggle is long and not even half won," says Pallavi, a student. "The charges need to be dropped asap. Police custody of Umar (Khalid) and Anirban (Bhattacharya) needs to end with immediate effect. We hope all our prayers and wishes are answered and our faith in the judiciary is restored.”
Not all are seeing this bail ruling as victory and say they would rest only after the sedition charge is dropped against Kanhaiya and the other students accused. They are also expecting probable release of Umar and Anirban who have been sent to judicial custody.
Mohinder Singh, faculty at School of International Studies and an active supporter of the students, says, “Indeed we are happy but at the same time we also feel that he should not have been arrested in the first place. Now the focus should be on establishing the truth behind the allegations made against the students.”
Pointing at the message from Bilgrami, one of the students says, “People across the world believe in the innocence of our students' union president but our government seems to be hell bent on proving him guilty. Thank God judiciary came to our rescue.”
The message from Bilgrami says, “Dear vice chancellor, since the evidence that is now available seems to strongly suggest that the video of Mr Kumar’s speech was doctored and since the video is, in any case, legally inadmissible as evidence, would you please make clear to the many admirers of JNU who do not wish to fall into ill repute … on what ground has the registrar of the university made the claim that there is irrefutable proof that establish the charge brought against Mr Kumar?”
The silence will soon be broken as students plan to march from Sabarmati dhabha to the admin block to celebrate Kanhaiya’s bail ruling.
The Delhi High Court granted interim bail to Kanhaiya for six months on a personal bail bond of Rs 10,000. Kanhaiya, who was accused of raising anti-national slogans during an event organized at JNU campus on 9 February, was arrested by the police on charges of sedition three days later.