#BigAfzalFight: 'Lawyers' thrash journalists at Patiala House court, Geelani detained on sedition charges

As political tensions roiled the debate over the dominant themes of sedition and 'India versus Afzal League' set on fire after a high volume protest in JNU last week, the Delhi Police on Monday detained former Delhi University lecturer SAR Geelani in connection with sedition charges slapped on him for allegedly organising an event at the Press Club of India to mark the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in New Delhi. On the same day, not far away from the Press Club, "BJP sympathizers in the garb of lawyers" beat up journalists, flinging barbs like "desh ke gaddar"(traitors) and snatching mobile phones so those who wanted to record a piece of the action could not.

#BigAfzalFight: Lawyers thrash journalists at Patiala House court, Geelani detained on sedition charges

SAR Geelani. Ibnlive

Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal said Geelani was called for questioning and asked about the “anti-India” slogans raised by participants at an event where he himself was the speaker.

“Geelani has been detained and he is being questioned at the Parliament Street police station,” a senior police official said following suo motu action based on media clips of the alleged incident.

On the same day, a mob of lawyers thrashed reporters before a hearing in a sedition case against JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar in Patiala House court complex in Delhi. Kumar, who was arrested and charged with sedition by the Delhi Police last Friday, was sent to police remand for two more days. Four journalists, including one from IANS, and some JNU students were assaulted.

“A group of people in the garb of lawyers, but were sympathisers of the BJP, thrashed JNU students who were produced in court today… The lawyers indulged in rowdyism. Outside the court, BJP MLA O P Sharma and a group of hooligans attacked students and journalists. The phones of journalists were snatched away. These people were aware that they were journalists… This hooliganism unleashed by the BJP… they may be shouting patriotic slogans… but that is totally to misguide the people. The hooligans were led by a BJP MLA,” Congress spokesperson P C Chacko is quoted in The Indian Express.

Writing in The Indian Express, Alok Singh recounts how he saw other students being roughed up at Patiala House court before he came under attack.

The embedded tweet here published on CNN IBN shows a BJP MLA beating up a person outside Patiala House court and then he later defends his actions in the name of 'patriotism'.

In a blog, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah attacked Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, accusing him of "supporting forces inimical to India's interests". The Congress hit back by invoking Mahatma Gandhi and his assassin Nathuram Godse.

Shah wondered if the Congress leader had "lent his voice to the separatists".

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said his party did not need lessons in patriotism from those "who are inheritors of the thought process of Nathuram Godse".

The arrest of Jawaharlal University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges continued to evoke condemnation from the opposition parties. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said in Patna that the central government had "framed" him.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Prakash Karat visited the JNU campus on Monday and said the party did not accept the central government's definition of nationalism.

The JNU has been on the boil over the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar on Friday. The controversy began when some JNU students organised a meet on February 9 to mark the anniversaries of executions of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front co-founder Maqbool Bhat. Anti-India slogans were reportedly raised at the gathering.

Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi said on Monday that Kanhaiya Kumar had joined the meeting on the campus where anti-national slogans were raised and he also raised slogans.

Kanhiaya Kumar, who belongs to the CPI-affiliated All India Students Federation (AISF), has denied the charge.

At least four of a group of journalists gathered at the Patiala House court on Monday afternoon to cover Kanhaiya Kumar's court production were assaulted by a section of lawyers, witnesses said.

IANS reporter Amiya Kumar Kushwaha was slapped inside a courtroom while some other journalists were attacked on the court premises by lawyers shouting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' slogans.

Indian Express reporter Alok Singh told IANS that he and a group of journalists were standing outside the courtroom when some lawyers began thrashing JNU students and media persons present there, including Amit Pandey of IBN7 and Manu Shankar of Kairali TV.

Journalists also saw O.P. Sharma, one of the three BJP legislators in the Delhi assembly, allegedly chasing and hitting a JNU student outside the court.

Earlier, scuffles broke out as lawyers shouting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' ordered JNU students and journalists out of the courtroom as well as the court premises. No reasons were assigned.

Some JNU students said that lawyers shouting 'Long Live India, Down with JNU' physically forced them out of the court premises.

The violence took place despite a big police presence in the court complex in the heart of the capital.

Shah said Rahul Gandhi should apologise "to the nation for his support to forces inimical to India's interests".

"No citizen can accept that a terrorist is favoured and anti-India slogans raised at a prestigious university," Shah said.

"But the kind of statements Rahul Gandhi and his party colleagues have delivered at the campus proves there is no place for national interest in their thinking."

Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had succeeded in controlling "anti-national sentiments in Kashmir" but the Congress "is igniting unfortunate anti-national activities at the JNU".

Shah said Rahul Gandhi was not able to "differentiate between anti-national and pro-national activity".

Surjewala said anyone who had committed a wrong at JNU should be punished, but "it's not true at all that anyone who raises voice against the Modi government is anti-national".

"Those who killed the thought process of Mahatma Gandhi and those who are inheritors of the thought process of Nathuram Godse (who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi) need not teach the nation and the Congress new definition of patriotism," Surjewala told reporters.

He said the Congress has a stellar record in strengthening the integrity of the country.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Sadhvi Prachi, who talked to the media at the university gate, said Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should tell the nation the definition of nationalism.

Editors Guild condemns attack

"The Editors Guild of India took serious note of the assault on journalists and strongly condemns this attempt to intimidate the media through the threat of physical violence, and prevent the journalists from doing their job," it said in a statement.

First person reports from the reporters representing television news channels and the print media point to a physical assault by lawyers allegedly supporting the BJP who ordered them to leave the court premises where the case was being heard, the statement said.

With IANS inputs

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Updated Date: Feb 16, 2016 08:09:16 IST

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