Former JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is out on bail in a sedition case, was today booed at an event where the audience did not allow him to speak, prompting him to cut short his address. Kanhaiya, who was arrested in February this year in a sedition case over an event during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised, had kick-started a debate on “nationalism” across the country.
He was to participate in the ‘India Today Mind Rocks’ summit today and address the gathering on “Azaadi”. However, the audience did not welcome him on stage and started hooting when he arrived. “Those who are hooting here are also free to do so. Desh me azaadi hai (there is freedom in the county). You will not be charged for sedition,” he said on a lighter note. Narrating his experiences from the prison, Kanhaiya said, “What is wrong in having been to jail? Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh have also gone to jail?”
However, when asked if he considers going to jail as “fancy”, the student leader said, “The world is a jail for many of us. When girls are not allowed to move out at night, they are in jail, when people are unemployed and live on footpaths they are in jail…so it is always a better deal to be in smaller jail (prison) than the bigger jail (world).” Kanhaiya, who has been critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, again took a dig at him, saying, “It is his birthday today but half the people are on streets and others in jails. What a reason to rejoice? If 65 per cent of the country comprises youths, how can a 65-year-old be their leader?”
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His remarks about the PM irked the audience who started cheering for Modi and booed him. Asked whether the slogans raised on February 9 in JNU
campus amounted to sedition, Kanhaiya said, “No sloganeering amounts to sedition. Any activity that breaks the nation or attempts to do so is seditious, slogans can never break any country…and India is not that weak that it will be divided or broken by anybody’s slogans”.
Kanhaiya had to cut short his address as the audience continued to hoot, disrupting his speech.