New Delhi: Five members of JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya’s family are currently serving in the defence forces and one, a CRFF jawan, laid down his life while fighting insurgents. This brief backdrop should be a sober reminder to those in the media and elsewhere trying to paint him ‘anti-national’ by contrasting the sacrifices made by the armed forces on the border and the slogan-shouting episode in JNU.
“Kanhaiya can never be an anti-national. Patriotism is in our blood and we do not need any certificate of nationalism from the killers of Gandhi – the Father of the Nation. Five sons of my family are protecting the country at the borders. We lost one of our brave sons (Dilip Singh, a CRPF jawan) four years ago in an ambush by insurgents at Manipur. Today, they (the right wing forces) are using the names of people like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad and Dr Ambekar to prove their nationalism. But they perhaps do not know, had they been alive, they would have supported Kanhaiya,” 83-year-old Rajendra Singh, uncle of the JNUSU president, told Firstpost.
His village, Birut, in Bihar’s Begusarai district played an important role in the freedom struggle. It is called the Bardoli of this region because of the role it played in the civil disobedience movement. No one can forget the account of local martyrs during the August revolt of 1942. He claimed he and his colleagues looted the weapons of British when they entered their village. “We had to flee the village and be on the run for days,” he added.
The angry but disappointed comrade, who is associated with the CPI since 1956, said “the booking of Kanhaiya on sedition charges has left us in a state of shock”. “Kanhaiya is fighting a battle of ideology and it will go long. Such situations will keep coming in his way. He will face it bravely because he is a revolutionary,” he said.
Rajendra added that JNU and its students are being targeted because “only Left can fight back the fascist forces and save the country’s plurality”. The crackdown on JNU, according to him, was a “conspiracy to crush people’s movements by those who lost in Delhi and Bihar”. He said his entire family was inspired by former JNUSU president comrade Chandrashekhar who was gunned down at Siwan in Bihar several years ago and that his anniversary in March is a household function in their Hasnatpur tola in Begusarai.
Singh had gone to meet Kanhaiya in Tihar jail on Monday and he became emotional seeing him behind bars. “Kanhaiya held my hand and consoled me saying that he was following the path I had shown him – the path of truth, the path to fight injustice. He asked me has he done anything that would make his parents and the entire family ashamed of him. I assured him that he had the full family support and should proceed on the leftist path, which our family has always believed in,” he said.
Kanhaiya has been kept in isolation and a 12-member quick-reaction team has been deployed around the cell to keep a 24-hour watch to avoid any untoward incident. He is devoting his time reading and writing a diary on his experience in the prison.
Kanhaiya’s uncle is sure that his nephew will come out clean, but asks who will repay the loss the media has caused with its “irresponsible reporting”. “Though we have full support of the village and our fellow villagers are standing with us, but it is also true that the media has created a suspicion. It has not done its duty properly. It has played with the future of Kanhaiya,” he complained.
Urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break silence, Singh said, “He (the PM), as he claims, comes from a poor family, like we do. He should break his silence, a lot is expected from him.”
Kanhaiya’s elder brother Manikant Singh, who is accompanying his uncle, says he was shocked when his younger brother was slapped with sedition charges. “I cannot even dream that my brother can be a traitor. I have full faith in my brother. The allegations against him are baseless and false. And I am sure the truth will prevail,” he told Firstpost.
Asked about Kanhaiya’s childhood, he said his brother was always a brilliant student. “Except grade 10, he secured first position in all classes. He is a good painter as well. He was very much interested in extracurricular activities. He used to take part in debates in schools and therefore, he is a good orator today,” said the elder brother.
Kanhaiya graduated in geography from Commerce College — a constituent unit of Magadh University, Bodh Gaya — in Patna. He earned masters in Sociology from Nalanda University. He completed M Phil from JNU and now pursuing PhD.
“He has deep cultural and political imprints of our family and believes reformist ideology. And therefore, he acquired a revolutionary tone and tenor. He is fighting for the causes of poor, Dalits and other marginalised groups of the society since beginning. He is of the view that if we do not try to become the voice of the voiceless, then who else and what is the benefit of pursuing PhD,” said Manikant.
Asked what does he except from the court (Delhi HC), which hear Kanhaiya’s bail plea on Tuesday, he said, “It will be a haste to say anything on bail because the government will use all its state machinery against him.”
“I won’t be surprised,” he said, “if more doctored videos are presented. We already know of audio clips being overlaid in an earlier video. Now, it may be time to insert visuals to implicate Kanhaiya, since no seditious slogan or utterance has been made by him”.
He was worried about the safety and security of his brother after the lawyers, who attacked Kanhaiya, JNU students and teachers and journalists at Patiala House court, were caught on camera threatening of future attacks including, hurling of bombs and murder.
Kanhaiya’s mother Meena Devi, who could not come to see his son because of her ailing husband, was extremely emotional while talking to Firstpost over phone and her prime concern was the safety and security of his son.
“My heart stopped when I saw my son being assaulted by goons in black at the court complex. I was helpless, I could not do anything,” said the inconsolable mother warning the government and the police ensure that Kanhaiya was doing well in the jail and outside.
She said her son did not need to explain anything as he had not committed any crime. “I am sure that he will walk free soon and be acquitted of all charges. Kanhaiya, you do not need to worry about anything. You are brave like your father and the entire family,” said Meena Devi, who works as an anganwadi worker.