Do you even know what sedition is? High Court raps Delhi Police in JNU row

New Delhi :Delhi Police today faced tough questions for slapping sedition charge on JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar by the Delhi High Court which asked it to show evidence against him of his “active role” in raising anti-India slogans and why the case was not lodged on February 9 itself.

The Delhi High Court on Monday asked Delhi Police if it really understood what sedition was. Though the prosecution maintained that Kanhaiya was “not cooperating” with the investigation and even came out with “contradictory” statements in joint interrogation by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Delhi Police, Justice Pratibha Rani wanted answers from the investigators to buttress their claims of having evidence on allegations which included that his speech was “more than political.”

“The presence at the spot is different from participation in the anti-national slogans,” Justice Rani said and wanted to know “Whether he played any active role in raising anti-India slogans.”

“Whether the mobile recording, done at your (police) instance, showed that Kanhaiya had raised any such slogans,” the bench asked the police during the hearing of his bail plea which was witnessed by his father, uncle and an elder brother and the cops assuring that the arrested students leader would “not be victimised” if it was found that he has no role.

The family members were present for the second day today after the February 24 hearing. They were brought inside the courtroom under police escort as the Supreme Court has made it clear that it is the responsibility of the Delhi Police to ensure the safety and security of the lawyers and those closely associated with the accused.

During the hearing in which there was a restricted entry only for lawyers of the parties and family members of the accused, Justice Rani, who reserved the verdict on Kanhaiya’s bail plea for March 2, sought clarification from investigators as to how the accused was leading the group shouting slogans when other political group of the students were also present.

“As per you (Delhi police) there were two (ABVP and AISF) groups. Explain how petitioner (Kanhaiya) was leading the group and shouted anti-India slogans,” the judge asked and added “do the police have video evidence that Kanhaiya was raising anti-national slogans?”

Delhi Police, represented through Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, told the bench that they do not have any video in this regard but there was evidence that the JNUSU President was raising slogans and “the speech (by him) was more than political.”
“If he has no role as claimed by him we assure that he is not victimised,” he said.

Taking note of the Delhi police submission that JNU sedition case has been trasferred to its anti-terror cell, a court here today allowed the custodial interrogation of two arrested accused students, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, for one more day.

The court extended the police custody of the duo, who had allegedly organised the event in JNU on February 9 where anti -India slogans were raised, after police contended that they were required for further probe in the case to unearth the larger conspiracy.

According to police sources, the anti-terror unit of Delhi police’s Special Cell to which the case has been transferred, needed some time to interrogate both the accused.

The police has claimed that around 22 people present at the flashpoint JNU event, including some outsiders, have been identified after the joint interrogation of Khalid, Anirban and JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar arrested in the same case.

Khalid and Anirban are in police remand since their surrender and subsequent arrest on February 24.

Earlier, the Delhi High Court had ordered that “confidentiality” be maintained during the remand proceedings of Umar and Anirban, besides Kumar, while directing the police to ensure that no one “suffers even a scratch” and there is no ruckus this time.

Lawyers had allegedly assaulted Kumar when he was brought to Patiala House Court for remand proceedings, in defiance of a Supreme Court order, on February 17. Two days earlier, when Kumar was to be brought to the court, the same set of lawyers had thrashed journalists and JNU students and teachers.

The high court order came during the hearing on Kumar’s bail plea after it was informed that the student leader and Umar and Anirban were apprehending threat to their safety and security during production before Patiala House courts for remand proceedings.

The police also inquired whether two of them were the main organisers of the February 9 event against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and whether they were involved in anti-India sloganeering which allegedly took place.

The duo had returned to the JNU campus last Sunday after they went missing on February 12.