Calling arrested JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar “talented”, Union minister and LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday said he had “sympathy” for him, but sought a thorough investigation into the incident of alleged anti-national speeches delivered on the university campus.
Significantly, Paswan, an ally of the NDA, criticised the violence and protests that have taken place since Kanhaiya’s arrest. “I condemn the violence in (Patiala House) court and other similar incidents across the country,” he said.
According to Paswan, JNU has always been known for upholding its freedom of expression but one should also know how “not to cross the line”. “Kisi jansabha mein jaana raashtradroh nehin hota (Taking part in a public meeting cannot be deemed anti-national). But if anti-national slogans are raised in that meeting, it is a subject of investigation,” Paswan said during an interaction with the media in Patna.
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Asked if Kanhaiya’s arrest is justified, Paswan said: “Woh chhatra neta hai, talented hai. Hamari sahanubhuti unke saath hai. Ab unhone kya kaha ye jaanch ka vishay hai (He is a student leader; he is talented. My sympathy is with him, but contents of his speech have to be investigated),” Paswan said, while echoing demand for a through probe into the JNU incident by examining the video footage.
Earlier in the day, Paswan had tweeted: “Ideological debates between students in educational institutions are essential but within the contours of Constitution and national honour.” He also tweeted, “JNU is a great institution. It has given great scholars to the country. Its dignity should be maintained.”
But with his remarks being seen as criticism of the government, Paswan later clarified: “I have already tweeted in morning about the JNU incident and that is my stand. Any wrong interpretation in this regard should be avoided.”
Meanwhile, following the clashes between BJP and AISF workers in Patna, BJP state president Mangal Pandey said, “Such attacks are provoked by the ruling establishment. If they want to fight our workers, they should decide the time and venue to challenge us and know our might. The government should stop this shadow-fighting.”
RJD chief Lalu Prasad said: “We also condemn any such protest in front of the BJP office, but the NDA government (at the Centre) is alone to be blamed for creating this situation.”