Last year in September, Kanhaiya Kumar swept the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union polls with 1,029 votes to become its president — the first from the All India Students Federation (AISF), the student wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI).
On Friday, Kanhaiya was arrested on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy for holding an “anti-national event” inside the university premises. He was also remanded to three-day police custody by a Delhi court.
Hailing from Begusarai district in Bihar, Kanhaiya studied in R K C High School in Barauni before joining College of Commerce in Patna in 2004. After completing his graduation from Nalanda Open University, Kumar moved to Delhi and subsequently joined JNU for his MPhil in 2011. He is now a third year PhD student in the School of International Studies.
Talking to The Indian Express after his victory last year, Kanhaiya spoke of his affiliation with the AISF.
“I performed many plays with IPTA (India People’s Theatre Association) in my school because of which I began reading a lot and became acquainted with Marxism. Once I began taking part in socio-political activities, I met AISF activists. By 2002, when I was still in school, I had become a member of the organisation,” he had said.
It was only in 2004 that he became an active member of AISF.
While his mother Mina Devi works as an anganwadi worker, his father Jai Shankar Singh has been bedridden since the last seven years due to paralysis. He has two brothers and a sister who is married.
Speaking to The Indian Express from Bihar, his brother Prince Kumar alleged that Kanhaiya’s arrest has been politicised.
“It is alarming that anti-national forces, which played no role in the national movement, are today branding my brother and his university as anti-national… This issue is not about Kanhaiya alone; it’s bigger than him. In the last couple of months, several attempts have been made to tarnish JNU’s reputation. This is not the first time they’re being called anti-national, Subramanian Swamy had said the same a while ago,” he said.
On charges of Kanhaiya being called an extremist, Prince said their entire family has been associated with the CPI for generations.
“The fact that he was associated with AISF, which is the CPI’s student wing, should speak for itself,” he said.