ALMOST THREE years after an FIR of sedition was registered against students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for allegedly raising “anti-national slogans” during an event on campus, the Delhi Police’s Special Cell has finalised the draft chargesheet in the case, naming Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya as the main accused.
Apart from the three — Kanhaiya was the JNU students’ union president at the time — police have included eight others in the draft chargesheet, which has been sent to the public prosecutor for vetting and is expected to be filed in the Patiala House Courts soon.
”Police have found concrete evidence against the eight others, all hailing from Kashmir… two of them are students at JNU, two at Jamia Millia Islamia, one at Aligarh Muslim University, one is a Muradnagar-based doctor and two are students,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express on condition of anonymity.
According to police sources, the investigating officer in the case has identified the eight Kashmiri students, including two brothers, after questioning Khalid and recording the statements of other students. “Police collected evidence after scanning the social media profiles of some of the students. One of them had posted a slogan raised at the event on Facebook. Most of these students were asked to mobilise people for the event,” said an officer linked to the case.
Police sources said the draft chargesheet also includes the names of 32 others, including former JNU students’ union vice-president Shehla Rashid, but added that “sufficient evidence has not been found” against them.
The chargesheet is based on the FIR filed days after the event was held on February 9, 2016, to protest the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The FIR states that “anti-national” slogans were allegedly raised at the event.
According to police sources, the chargesheet was delayed since forensic reports on data from mobile phones and laptops of the accused were received only recently. “In one of the reports, the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, CBI, found that raw video footage of the event was authentic,” the officer said.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Kanhaiya Kumar’s lawyer Vrinda Grover said she was not aware of the status of the chargesheet. “It is clearly a politically motivated case… Kanhaiya Kumar is contesting elections, as far as we all know, so this is being done for extraneous political reasons… This is abuse of process and misuse of police in the political arena. From the start, we contested that it’s not a case of sedition and allegations were fabricated,” she said.
Police said the main chargesheet will comprise around 100 pages and will have forensic reports, statements and technical evidence as annexures.
Following the campus event, a high-level enquiry committee set up by JNU had said in its report that 10-15 “outsiders” who had their faces covered with “cloth/scarf” had raised the slogans. The panel said the presence of these “outsiders” was verified by security staff as well as eyewitnesses.
Police had subsequently arrested Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya on charges of sedition. Later, all three got bail. Initially, a case was registered at Vasant Kunj (north) police station on February 11, 2016, under IPC Section 124-A (sedition). The case was later transferred to the Special Cell and during investigation, two more IPC sections — 147 (punishment for rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly) — were added.