In spite of being labelled as an 'anti-national' from various right-wing quarters, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar has found support from people most unexpected.
Not only did Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said it is wrong to brand Kanhaiya as anti-national and slap a sedition case against him, soon after, the Hindu Sant Mahasabha – an affiliate organization of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha – said they were wrong in labeling Kumar as anti-national, according to this report by The Times of India.
Swami Chakrapani Maharaj, the president of the organisation, was quoted in the report as saying, that they were misled by the "BJP propaganda" against Kumar and his fellow JNU scholars Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya.
"I was enraged when I learnt that Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban had raised slogans against my mother land. I was swayed by the BJP's propaganda. However, I decided to follow this case properly. When I went into the details, I realized that there was not a shred of evidence against any of the three students. It was clear to me that the BJP has been trying to make scapegoat of them," Maharaj told The Times of India.
According to this report by The Hindu, Chakrapani Maharaj said that the BJP government was trying to make Kumar a scapegoat and is trying to exploit the issue of nationalism. "It is quite shameless and completely wrong to brand innocent students as anti-national when their views are completely within the purview of the Constitution," Maharaj was quoted as saying in the report.
On Monday, the JNU slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 on Kumar and rusticated Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and Kashmiri student Mujeeb Gattoo for varying durations over their alleged role in the controversial 9 February event for which they were charged with sedition, an action which had sparked outrage and triggered protests.
Based on the findings of a high-level enquiry committee (HLEC), Khalid has been rusticated for one semester and Bhattacharya till 15 July. Khalid has also been slapped a fine of Rs 20,000. Anirban has been barred from JNU campus for a period of five years starting 23 July.
JNU students union president Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban were arrested on charges of sedition in February in connection with the controversial event and are out on bail.
Their arrests had triggered widespread protests at JNU and many other universities, following which the Opposition had accused the government of attempting to stifle dissent.
While Umar and Anirban were blamed for "triggering communal violence" and "disrupting" communal harmony on the campus, Mujeeb was found guilty of participating sloganeering. Kanhaiya was pronounced guilty of indiscipline and misconduct.
With inputs from PTI