Afzal Guru is not my icon. He was a citizen of this country and an inhabitant of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of the country. He was punished by the law of the land and the same law allows to speak about the conviction, said Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar in a cautious reply to the questions asked by mediapersons during a press conference on Friday evening.
He made it clear that he won’t talk about the merits of the case which is subjudice. Kumar is out on six-month interim bail in a sedition case filed against him and his fellow students in connection with the 9 February event organised on the campus where anti-national slogans were allegedly shouted.
“I can assure you that a JNU student can never indulge in anti-national activities. We want to assure the taxpayers that a JNU student can never be anti-national,” he said responding to the public opinion these days that the varsity be “shut down as taxpayers' money cannot be spent on the hub of anti-nationals”.
He condemned the 9 February incident. Asked about his views on the alleged sloganeering, Kumar said, “It is for the court to decide and I believe in the judiciary. The Constitution is not a video that can be doctored.” He was taking a dig at some news channels that allegedly tampered with a video purportedly of the 9 February event to create a hysteria against these 'anti-nationals'.
“We want to tell the nation that we are being lynched by mobs in trains and autos. Fabricated videos were used to malign the image of JNU, where 60 percent of the students are girls and majority of the students come from marginalised section of the society and have a humble family background,” said Kumar who was confidently facing tough questions and assuring every press man that they would get a reply.
He went on to add that Rohith Vemula, the PhD student who committed suicide at University of Hyderabad, was his icon. “Tum kitne Rohith maroge, har ghar se Rohith niklega (How many Rohiths will you kill, every house will produce a Rohith). We will fight the government to ensure justice for him. Our fight is long. And therefore, we hold unity march, not a victory march,” said the JNUSU president.
Asked whether he is planning to campaign for his party (the Communist Party of India) in the upcoming state elections, he said, “I am not a leader, just a student. I was elected as the president of students’ union at JNU. I work for them. I have to resolve their issues.”
He is pursuing PhD in social transformation at the Centre for African Studies and wants to become a teacher.
He sees the current political atmosphere as “dark cloud” but is hopeful that the same dark cloud will bring a heavy rain. “These dark clouds will go away,” he added.
Asked whether he justifies the alleged slogans raised in favour of a Parliament attack convict, he clarified that he does not endorse such slogans at all. “Raising such slogans is not justified,” he said. Asked why did not he intervene in the capacity of the JNUSU president when “anti-national” slogans were chanted on 9 February, he said, “I am not a permitting authority and stopping such events from taking place is not in my domain.” But “I urge the government not to use serious charge of sedition to ruin future of students”.
Asked whether he is afraid of the police in his fight against the state and common perception, the confident Kumar added that he used to be fearful but after facing the police, his fear vanished. “I am not afraid of the police or the state, but the RSS. But the more they try to make me afraid, the more I become stronger. My fight against the right wing forces which try to divide the society on the basis of caste, creed and religion will go on till my last breath,” he said.
Asked why he thinks there is a binary being created between “anti-national” students and those who die protecting the borders, Kumar added, “All our jawans are martyrs. Those who claim to be the custodian of nationalism should know my brother, who was serving in the CRPF, died while fighting Maoist insurgents... but at the same time, the farmers who are committing suicide and those who are killed in cold blood in the name of Maoists are also martyrs”.