Minutes after Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar was granted interim bail on Wednesday, his elder brother Manikant Kumar called up their mother Meena Devi to share the news.
“It has been weeks since my mother last spoke to him. She was very happy but she has been asking what ‘interim bail’ means. I said I will explain all that later… but for now, this calls for a celebration,” said Manikant, almost out of breath between umpteen phone calls and congratulatory messages at the CPI office in ITO.
Throughout Wednesday, Manikant and his uncle Rajendra Singh had weighed the various possibilities. By evening, their patience was wearing thin. Manikant said, “Whatever the decision is, why don’t they just give the order? What are they waiting for? Even if he is not being granted bail, they should just say it, instead of keeping us on tenterhooks like this.”
“On Tuesday, when we met Kanhaiya in jail, he was composed as always… he said he was optimistic about the bail hearing, but also unsure. He said he would accept whatever decision is taken by the court. We have a lot to learn from him,” said Manikant.
As news of Kumar being granted interim bail flashed on the sole TV screen in the CPI office, the office resounded with rapturous applause.
“This is the collective victory of JNU, the entire country and our youth. We knew he would come out of this and he has…,” said the JNUSU president’s uncle Rajendra Singh.
“Now, it is time for us to get back to our jobs and our lives. Kanhaiya will take over and get his name cleared. He has a long way to go…” said Manikant.
Back home, at Bihat village in Begusarai, Kumar’s family hailed the court’s decision as the “victory of democracy”. “My son has done nothing to be kept in jail”, said Kumar’s father Jaishankar Singh, who has been bed-ridden with paralysis since 2013.
Over 100 villagers, who had gathered at Kumar’s ancestral residence, burst firecrackers and smeared gulal on each other.
“It is such a big relief and victory of democracy. We always discussed that court would find little merit in keeping Kanhaiya in jail. My son has done nothing to be kept in jail. My son will fight it out,” said Jaishankar.
Kumar’s mother Meena Devi, who has been unwell since her son’s arrest, said her “prayers have been answered”.
Kumar’s younger brother Prince Singh said the family had decided to celebrate Holi, days before the actual festival, to mark the court verdict.
“My father was smeared in gulal by some enthusiastic villagers. He was almost in tears… we are overwhelmed with the kind of support we got. Kanhaiya’s episode has fuelled a debate… this is a defining moment for democracy,” he said.
Prince said Kumar’s supporters had been making their way to Bihat since his arrest. “I have received more phone calls pledging support for Kumar in the last fortnight than I have in my entire life,” he said.