New Delhi: JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested for sedition, has never made anti-national remarks and in fact opposes all forms of extremism, fellow students and his Phd teacher-guide say.
Those who know him well in Jawaharlal Nehru University as well as those who have known him from his younger days in Bihar insist that his politics are left-wing, pro-poor but certainly not anti-India.
And those who were present at the controversial February 9 meeting on Kashmir at the JNU campus say Kanhaiya did not raise any of the anti-India slogans blamed on a section of students and outsiders.
Fellow Phd student Amrita, a friend of Kanhaiya for 12 years, told IANS that he "can never even think of anything anti-India because it is against his understanding of politics and society".
Two other students -- Rahila Perween, a PhD student, and Piyush Ranjan Jha, an MPhil student -- both of whom were present at the February 9 event told IANS that Kanhaiya "did not raise any anti-national slogans".
The first president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union (JNUSU) from the CPI-affiliated AISF, Kanhaiya faces charges of sedition for allegedly raising the slogans. He has denied the charge.
"He is objective, analytical, empathizes with social issues and is against all forms of extremism," Amrita told IANS on Wednesday, a day when Kanhaiya was sent to judicial custody till March 2 after being roughed up by lawyers opposed to him.
Amrita and Kanhaiya pursued their bachelor degrees in geography from the College of Commerce in 2003 in Patna. She said he was always a meritorious student and a good orator with an in-depth knowledge of world affairs.
"He has great organizational capabilities. He deeply understands politics and is the kind of student and citizen one would be proud of," she said.
Kanhaiya, now in his late 20s, is pursuing his PhD in African Studies at JNU under professor S.N. Malakar.
"One should know about the history of the AISF, and then you will realise that Kanhaiya can never make anti-national remarks," Malakar told IANS.
Rahila Perween, who has known Kanhaiya for 13-14 years, too was present at the February 9 event.
"He did not raise anti-national slogans," Perween told IANS. "We are at the forefront of raising various issues. We are being targeted for this."
Piyush Ranjan Jha said Kanhaiya arrived at the venue to prevent clashes between student groups on February 9.
"Some people were present at the venue who are not from the university. He was there just to pacify the students. He did not make any anti-national remarks," Jha told IANS.
A resident of Bihat village in Bihar, Kanhaiya'a father is a farmer and mother a health worker in Begusarai district, said Biswajit, general secretary of the AISF, the student wing of the Communist Party of India.
His elder brother works for a private company, his younger brother has just completed his masters in commerce and his elder sister is married and lives in Bihar.
Kanhaiya won the JNUSU president's post in September 2015. It was the first time the AISF won the post though it had held other positions in the student union in the past.
Biswajit insisted that Kanhaiya was a patriot.
"When the Indian government held events to commemorate the 1857 uprising, Kanhaiya represented his college and won an award as well. There is no way he can say anything anti-national," he said.