Slogans in favour of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru were allegedly raised by some people taking part in a rally by Jadavpur University students on Tuesday to protest the recent arrest of JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar.
While the BJP and its students’ front, the ABVP, demanded immediate arrest of those who had raised these slogans, the JU students’ union (JUSU) maintained it was the work of “fringe elements”.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Jadavpur) Suranjan Das was not available for comment despite repeated attempts. The ruling Trinamool Congress did not comment officially.
During a torch rally from Jadavpur University (JU) campus to Gol Park in South Kolkata by students of all faculties of the university, slogans such as “Afzal bole azadi, Geelani bole azadi” and “Chhinke lenge azadi” were raised. Among other slogans were “Freedom from RSS, freedom from Modi government”, “Jab Kashmir ne maangi azadi, Manipur bhi boli azadi”.
A JUSU spokesperson said: “It was a large gathering and some fringe elements raised these slogans. We immediately asked them not to. It doesn’t mean any anti-national virus is spreading…”
Samanya Raha, local committee secretary of the CPI(M)-affiliated Students Federation of India (SFI), who took part in the rally, said it was a “mass gathering” against Kanhaiya’s arrest.
Another participant, Nirjhar Mukherjee, said, “We had raised the call for azaadi, but it is important to understand the context. I didn’t raise slogans in support of Afzal or Geelani, but asked for azadi, or freedom, from the atrocities of Modi government. I love my country and it is not anti-national to demand this. I asked for azadi for tolerance, for a world where Dalits and Muslims aren’t targeted. I raised slogans for azadi of Dalits and farmers. Does that mean they are going to create a new country?”
Mukherjee also said, “There were some people around me who raised slogans in support of Afzal and Geelani, and I was shocked to hear it.”
Soon after sections of the protest featuring these slogans were captured by news agency ANI, the BJP and ABVP demanded immediate arrest of the “anti-national elements” in Jadavpur University.
BJP leader Sidharth Nath Singh said, “The TMC should immediately arrest those who can be seen (in footage) raising anti-national slogans, but they will not do so. They want (to do) vote bank politics; they won’t take such a step before the elections. But by not doing so, TMC will stand alongside these anti-national elements.”
ABVP state secretary Subir Haldar also said the “anti national elements” should be immediately arrested ? “They’re ruining JU.”
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said, “I condemn the incident. Such anti-national slogans cannot be tolerated.”