JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were released from jail after they were granted interim bail on Friday. Both the JNU students arrested in a sedition case almost a month ago, were granted bail for six months by a Delhi court.
Students at JNU cheered the duo's release even as actor Anupam Kher, who has been critical of JNU students in wake of the sedition row, questioned how one who "speaks ill" of the country can be celebrated as if he was an Olympic medal winner.
Kher, who was at JNU campus for screening of his movie Buddha in a Traffic Jam, made a reference to JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar saying, "he is out on bail, he hasn't come back with a medal from Olympics that he should be accorded such huge welcome."
"One who talks ill of the country, how can he be celebrated as hero? Has he got an Olympic medal? He is out on bail. He is not Sachin, Saina or Hanumanathappa," he said, without naming Kanhaiya.
"He said that he comes from a poor family but my question is what did you contribute to remove their poverty? My father's salary was Rs 90 when I got my first scholarship of Rs 200 and I had sent Rs 110 to my family. What did you do?"
Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kher said, "It is after years that we have got such a good prime minister. We are also trying to get you all back on road to revolution and patriotism."
Kanhaiya, who was granted bail in the sedition case on 2 March, said, "I have been to jail, I know what being there is. I am glad our comrades will be back but the struggle does not end here."
"With the release of comrade Kanhaiya, there was some relief. But now, with the release of Umar and Anirban, it seems that we can actually heave a sigh of relief before we can gear up again for an intensified struggle," said Shehla Rashid Shora, vice president of JNUSU.
"The arrest and possible arrest of our comrades had given us sleepless nights. I would get nightmares of police raids and wake up in the middle of night, scared and exhausted," she said.
Umar and Anirban faced sedition charges after a controversial event held on 9 February at JNU to mark the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. They surrendered on the intervening night of 23-24 February, hours after the Delhi high court refused to grant them protection from arrest.
They were lodged in jail and had sought bail on the grounds of parity with Kanhaiya, saying he has already been granted bail and the incident did not attract charges of sedition.
Meanwhile, Kanhaiya said that Kashmir is an integral part of India and so Indians can discuss the issues pertaining to Kashmiris at any forum. The JNUSU leader was speaking at the India Today Conclave on Friday. Kanhaiya said, "There is no doubt that Kashmir is an integral part of India. And since Kashmiris are Indians, we can always discuss their issues."
Kanhaiya also denied supporting the executed Kashmiri militant Afzal Guru for his role in the terror attack on Parliament, but said he opposed capital punishment.
At the conclave, Kumar also reacted to Anupam Kher's speech and said, "Today Anupam Kherji came to JNU and shared his views on certain topics. He is one of my favourite actors. Many told me that he should be opposed. I told them that we have to show the world what is JNU. JNU always encourages debates and doesn't oppose anyone's right to speak."
Meanwhile, a Rajasthan minister said that school curriculum is being changed to ensure "no one like Kanhaiya Kumar is born" in the state.
"To inculcate the feeling of patriotism in students, major changes are being made in the curriculum," Vasudev Devnani, minister of state for education (primary and secondary) said in the assembly on Thursday.
"In view of the recent JNU incident, government universities have been asked to hoist the national flag so as to inculcate patriotism in students," State Higher Education Minister Kali Charan Saraf said.
With inputs from agencies