Opposition leaders were added on Sunday to the list of those booked for sedition in connection with the JNU row, with the Saroornagar Police Station under the Cyberabad police registering cases against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, CPI MP D Raja, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, JD(U) MP K C Tyagi, and Congress leaders Ajay Maken and Anand Sharma, apart from JNU students Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid.
The XI Metropolitan Magistrate Court of L B Nagar ordered the cases to be filed on a petition by advocate S Janardhan Goud, who stated that he was disturbed by the video footage shown on Times Now and Zee News in which he heard students chanting anti-India slogans.
The cases were filed under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid are currently under arrest.
The FIR was registered as per a magisterial order under Section 153(6) of the CrPC directing police to take cognizance of the complaint, Deputy Commissioner Tafseer Iqubal said.
“The complainant is a practising advocate at L B Nagar Court and he filed a petition informing the court about the events at JNU from February 9 allegedly organised in support of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. He submitted videos in which students allegedly shouted anti-national slogans. The court took cognizance of his petition and directed police to register a complaint and investigate, which we have done today.
We will verify the proof that the advocate has submitted and take legal opinion whether we can investigate it or not because the videos submitted as proof are of JNU in New Delhi, which is beyond our jurisdiction,’’ DCP Iqubal said.
Denying any political affiliations, Goud said the videos shown on news channels had left him agitated. “I have been told that the videos are genuine and that some students really chanted slogans that they will cut the country into pieces. How can Rahul Gandhi and other leaders sit alongside such student leaders and express support to them when they chant anti-national slogans? I am a citizen of this country and I want to know what is going on at JNU and why these leaders visited the students. That is why I filed the petition.”
Reacting to the case against Rahul Gandhi, the Congress said it wouldn’t stop it from remaining “the torch-bearer against oppression and suppression” by the BJP. “Sadly, the BJP and its allies want to suppress every voice that speaks against their repressive anti-Dalit and anti-poor policies. From Rohith Vemula to Rahul Gandhi, everyone who raises an opinion against suppressing of opinion by the Modi government is branded anti-national,” chief party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Yechury said the case had to have the government’s approval. “This is a political move by the RSS-BJP. This could not have happened without the government’s sanction. The matter will be taken up politically and legally,” the CPM leader said.
JD(U) leader Tyagi said the charge reminded him of “pre-Emergency days”. “Along with Jayaprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, we have faced all these charges. This is a government with new ideology and it reminds me of pre-Emergency days,” he said.
The issue would definitely be raised in Parliament, Tyagi added. “We will fight it inside and outside Parliament.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be asked for “the definition of national and anti-national”.