“There are many, including us, who are party to the agitation against booking of JNU students in a sedition case over an event against hanging of Afzal Guru but will JNU stand for SAR Gilani who has been charged with the same offence,” asks his brother Bismillah.
Gilani was arrested in the wee hours of February 15, barely three days after the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar. While six JNU students have been charged with sedition over an event on campus, Geelani is facing the charges over an event at the Press Club on the same issue.
His family, however, feels the way the chorus for Kanhaiya’s release grew among students supported by academicians and others, Geelani has been given a “differential” treatment by JNU.
“The event was the same, the charges are the same. Police had been claiming that they had evidence against Kanhaiya which is also under question now but no such claims of proof have been made against Geelani. But why is the public discourse silent on him, why the differential treatment,” Bismillah told PTI.
“JNU is known for making everybody’s headache its own, for standing in support of many but why are they silent on Gilani. There was a massive campaign demanding Kanhaiya’s release and now the clamour has shifted to Umar and Anirban but not one is talking of Gilani,” he added.
Gilani, who holds a doctorate in Arabic and teaches at Zakir Hussain College (Evening) in Delhi, has been questioning Afzal Guru’s hanging ever since Delhi Police accused him of being involved in the 2001 Parliament attack and failed to win a conviction.
“My brother has been teaching at DU since years but not even once the college authorities have tried to reach out to us since his arrest. When my brother was arrested in 2001, the Delhi police had projected him as the mastermind behind the Parliament attack.
“Though his acquittal came as a relief to us, the two years that he spent in jail and the time after it still haunts us. He has two grown up children who have to justify to people that he is not a criminal,” he said.
Bismillah, who has written a book, Manufacturing Terrorism: Kashmiri encounters with the Media and Law, where he tells his brother’s story, said, “I agree that it is important to defend students, they are future of the country but people who have been supporting JNU should not have two different approaches over the same issue.”
At the Press Club event, a group had allegedly shouted slogans hailing Guru, following which the police had lodged a case under sections 124A (sedition), 120B(criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the IPC against Gilani and other unnamed persons.
The police had claimed to have registered the FIR taking suo motu cognisance of media clips of the incident. A Delhi Court had sent him to judicial custody till March 16.
Though Kanhaiya Kumar walked out of Tihar last week after he was granted a bail in the case, two more students – Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya – are still in custody.
Kanhaiya, after his release, has joined the ongoing movement at varsity demanding the duo’s release.