Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar was Friday sent to three-day police custody after the Delhi Police told the court that they wanted to “probe his links to terrorist groups”. Kumar’s “custodial interrogation” was needed to identify other persons present at the alleged “anti-national” demonstration at JNU Tuesday, said police.
The police have booked the JNUSU president, who was arrested Friday, on charges of criminal conspiracy and sedition under sections 124A and 120B of the Indian Penal Code.
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Kumar, who was brought to the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Loveleen, told the court that he was being “targeted” as he had “defeated the ABVP in the student elections.” He also told the court that as the JNUSU president, he had “merely gone to resolve the clash” between organisers of the “cultural event” and the ABVP activists.
“I am an AISF member. We are not leftist radicals. We dissociate ourselves from these slogans,” said the JNUSU president, adding that a “few extremist elements” were “spoiling the image of JNU.”
The police had sought five-day custody of Kumar, claiming that he had “visited Kashmir in 2012”. The police also told the court that they were “looking into links with Kashmiri and Pakistani terrorist groups.” They said a witness, who was a security guard at the university, had “identified” Kumar as having been present at the protest.
The magistrate watched the video recording of the protest, as shown on a TV channel, during the hearing. He asked the police whether they had arrested any of the persons “who wanted azaadi.” The police said the co-accused had “absconded,” a point disputed by Kumar, who claimed that a number of persons involved in the incident had “been appearing on TV” and “were present in JNU.”
Sources told The Indian Express that Delhi Police have formed eight teams to look for the co-accused. “The cell phones of the absconding persons were switched off in Noida and Gurgaon. We are conducting raids in these areas and also scanning their call details record,” they said. Kumar’s bank records are also being scrutinised, said sources.
Six persons, including JNUSU general secretary Rama Naga, were named by police. The JNUSU president said that Naga was “being framed,” and the event had been organised by “10 JNU students” who were not part of the students’ union executive.
Kumar identified some students visible in the video footage of the event shown to the court and said he was “ready to cooperate with the police in identifying the protesters”.
A few CPI members, including DU professor Dinesh Varshney and CPI Delhi state secretary Dhirendra Sharma, tried to speak to Kumar but were not allowed to do so. Some lawyers accompanying Varshney and Sharma claimed they had been “engaged to represent Kumar” but the police did not allow them to meet him. The JNUSU president will now be presented in court Monday.