The Sabarmati dhaba at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) reverberated with slogans of azadi Wednesday night, but this time it was JNU Students Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar’s azadi (freedom) from judicial custody that was being celebrated.
Hundreds of students gathered at the dhaba late at night to celebrate and raise slogans in support of Kumar. As they chanted lines like “jail ka taala toota hai, comrade Kanhaiya chhoota hai” (the locks of the prison have been broken, comrade Kanhaiya has been released) to “Comrade Kanhaiya ko laal salaam, Jai Bheem”, students also danced on their own slogans.
The level of excitement was so high that slogans like “Haathi ghoda palki, jai Kanhaiya laal ki”, not traditionally associated with Left activists, were also raised at the event.
Among those celebrating Kumar being granted interim bail was former JNUSU president V Lenin Kumar from the Democratic Students’ Federation. “Finally, JNU’s position has been vindicated and Kanhaiya has got bail. Now Umar and Anirban should also get bail and all sedition charges must be revoked. More importantly, those who targeted Kanhaiya and called him names owe him and the entire JNU community an apology,” said Kumar.
JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were also arrested on charges of sedition.
JNUSU general-secretary Rama Naga also addressed the students at the dhaba, minutes before he was hoisted by some students on their shoulders.
“On behalf of JNUSU, I welcome the news. Today, comrade Kanhaiya could not be with us, but hopefully tomorrow he will join us and we will march again from Ganga dhaba. Yesterday, during the mess campaign, ABVP members said in the Periyar hostel that Kanhaiya won’t be given bail. We will take our rally through Periyar to give them a fitting reply,” he said.
After about half-an-hour of sloganeering and jubilation, the protesters started their march to the administrative block of JNU — the nerve centre of the movement seeking Kumar’s release.
At Periyar hostel, some students raised slogans of “ABVP haye haye’, and ‘Parishad haye haye’, while speeches and slogans continued late into the night.