More than 20 student activists associated with the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation were detained at the Matunga police station on Wednesday for gathering outside Dadar railway station to protest against the arrest of JNU students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar.
The AISA and CPI (ML) Liberation activists alleged their detention was planned and that “right wing” organisations’ pleas had led to their arrest, but the police said no permission had been granted for the protest.
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The students claimed that the police denied permission to organise the “peaceful” protest at the last minute, despite having given their nod on Tuesday.
AISA activist Aditi Pandey said that the protest had not even begun when they were detained. “We had already given an application intimating the police on Tuesday about our protest outside Dadar railway station on Wednesday,” she said, adding that permission was given on the condition that there should be no aggressive sloganeering. “We agreed, but on Wednesday morning they told us that we cannot protest. Some of us then gathered outside Dadar railway station to decide the next course of action and began informing other protesters who had not yet reached. That is when they detained us,” she said.
However, B M Kakad, senior inspector, Matunga police station, said that the protest went ahead even though permission had been denied to the students. “Dadar railway station is not a venue for protests. Permission is only granted for protests at Azad Maidan. We charged seven people for unlawful assembly under the Maharashtra Police Act and let them go after granting them bail on the spot,” he said.
The All India Students’ Federation , Students’ Federation of India , University Community for Democracy and Equality , and several other organisations, individuals and activists were slated to be part of the protest.
“We were protesting in support of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union’ s call to observe Wednesday as an international day of protest. We were demanding the immediate withdrawal of sedition charges against Kanhaiya Kumar and students of JNU and the opposition leaders.” said Pandey.
Another AISA activist said, “As of now, the struggle continues on two fronts — the first is the political battle to get sedition and other charges removed against all JNU students. Since the application of the sedition law is politically determined, we want to build political pressure to get the criminal charges removed.”
The activist added, “The second challenge is to ensure that academic suspension of the eight activists is unconditionally revoked. After the February 9 incident, the JNU administration constituted an inquiry committee but the JNUSU and JNU Teachers’ Association, have expressed grave concerns regarding the composition, scope and intentions of the committee.”
Last week, following reports of Maoist links to the JNU sedition case, the Left-affiliated AISA had written to Delhi Police saying they are ready to cooperate with the probe. However, the activists claimed it has nothing to do with Wednesday’s protest.