#SeditionDebate: Now, police arrests former DU lecturer SAR Geelani for anti-India protests

New Delhi: Former Delhi University lecturer SAR Geelani, booked for sedition for allegedly organising an event at the Press Club of India to mark the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, was arrested in the wee hours of Tuesday morning on sedition and other charges in connection with an event in which anti-India slogans were raised, police said.

"Geelani was arrested around 3 am at the Parliament Street police station under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly)," DCP (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal said.

The arrest comes in the wake of growing political tensions over alleged anti-India protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) which spilled over to a Delhi court where a mob of lawyers thrashed reporters before a hearing in a sedition case against student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar.

Geelani was called to the police station on late Monday night where he was detained and questioned for several hours, and later arrested. After his arrest, he was taken to RML Hospital for a medical examination, he said.

JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested too over sedition charges in connection with an event on 9 February where JNU students were protesting against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

#SeditionDebate: Now, police arrests former DU lecturer SAR Geelani for anti-India protests

Former DU lecturer SAR Geelani. IBNLive

At an event in Press Club on 10 February, in which Geelani was present on the dais along with three other speakers, a group allegedly had shouted slogans hailing Afzal Guru. Taking suo motu cognisance of the matter, the police registered a case against Geelani and other unnamed persons on 12 February.

Police had claimed that Geelani was booked as he is presumed to be the "main organiser" of the event.

"Request for booking a hall at the Press Club was done through Geelani's e-mail and the nature of the event was proposed to be a public meeting, which did not turn out to be so," a senior official had said.

Following the registration of the FIR, the police questioned for two consecutive days DU professor Ali Javed, a Press Club member, under whose membership number the hall for the event was booked.

In 2001, Geelani was arrested by Delhi Police in connection with the Parliament attack case but acquitted for "need of evidence" by the Delhi High Court in October 2003, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in August 2005, which at the same time had observed that the needle of suspicion pointed towards him.

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.

The escalating stand-off over the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar saw the students going on strike till he is released. Reports on Monday afternoon said that teachers of the university have decided to join the agitating students over the ongoing row as well.

Lawyers and JNU students indulged in scuffle inside the court premises in New Delhi ahead of hearing in the case against Kanhaiya Kumar, who was arrested in a sedition case, PTI reported. Further, journalists were reportedly beaten, threatened and their mobile phones were snatched. This happened even as the police present at the spot remained mute spectators, according to an NDTV report.

"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 OP 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 PC 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'.

Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said, "We are looking into the content of various tweets which are blasphemous and objectionable."

Vice-Chancellor Jadesh Kumar appealed to the students to not resort to strikes and protests so that academic functioning of the university is not hampered. “We also stand for free expression of ideas but I believe there is no need for strikes as the problem can be solved amicably. We are reaching out to the entire JNU community to see how the problem can be addressed but academic functioning of the university is of prime importance and should not be hampered,” he told reporters.

While the teachers association of the university have raised questions over the VC allowing a police crackdown on campus, Kumar said he was bound with the “law of land”. “I never invited the police to enter the campus and pick our students. We only provided whatever cooperation was needed as per the law of land. We were bound to do so,” he added.

An united Opposition vehemently protested against Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's diktat against the agitating students of JNU. CPM leader Prakash Karat on Monday took pot-shots at Rajnath Singh for saying that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed backed the Afzal Guru event at the JNU campus in New Delhi.

"The home minister relies on a fake Twitter handle for information," Karat, who visited the campus on Monday, told the media.

On Saturday evening, Rahul Gandhi showed up at JNU campus where he slammed the government action: "What is anti-national? Most anti-national people are those suppressing the voice of students in JNU."

BJP president Amit Shah on Monday launched a scathing attack on Rahul for his stand on the JNU row and said that no anti-national activities would be allowed in the country. "No citizen can accept that a terrorist is favoured and anti-India slogans raised at a prestigious university of the country," Shah said in a blog.

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

Shah also said, "Rahul Gandhi has compared the present situation in the country to Hitler's reign...I want to know from Rahul Gandhi-did the Emergency of 1975 define the democratic values? Does not consider Indira Gandhi's approach as comparable to Hitler?"

Meanwhile, maintaining that the Centre was against only a 'handful' of people responsible for the current state of unrest at the JNU campus, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Monday said that the government had problems with students protesting only when it was 'anti-national'.

Quoting Naqvi, ANI tweeted saying, "We don't have any objection to students raising their voice and protesting, but the reason behind it is important. If an anti-national activity has happened and action is being taken against it and someone protests against it then it is unfortunate."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 16, 2016 08:14:28 IST

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