JNU row: Students, scholars hit the streets

New Delhi: In an unprecedented show of solidarity, thousands of students along with scholars, academics and the intelligentsia today hit the streets of the capital decrying the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar over charges of sedition and demanding his immediate release.

Protesters swelled by the hour in the march, led by the JNUSU (Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union), that began from the Mandi House circle around 2 PM and ended at Jantar Mantar, bringing traffic to a standstill in the heart of the capital.

The chain of protesters comprising students from universities across the country measured over a kilometre at one point who rent the air with the slogan ‘JNU…JNU’ as they marched ahead. Eminent scholar Zoya Hasan described the moment as a “critical juncture”.

“It’s a critical juncture for the future of the Indian democracy. I am absolutely delighted by the remarkable response that this protest has seen. The Modi government is up against the youth. The anti-national tag is being used to suppress dissent,” Hasan, Professor Emeritus JNU, said.

Prominent leaders of the left parties including CPI(M)’s Brind Karat and Mohammed Selim, apart from Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, veteran journalist P Sainath flayed the Centre for “crushing dissent” in their speeches.

Students from the Delhi University, Hyderabad University, South Asian University, Jamia Millia Islamia University raised rapturous slogans, recited poetries, sang resistance songs as they marched till Jantar Mantar with many describing it as an “epoch”.

“JNU students are not terrorists. Terror is what is being unleashed by the government on students. Every effort has been made to brand us terrorists. We condemn that as we condemn the media trial,” JNUSU vice president Shehla Rashid Shora said.

In the beginning of the march, a huge number of the protesters held roses in their hands and raised them in the air in unison while letting out a cry of defiance. Many lawyers participated as well saying that the ones who attacked journalists and students in court premises “do not represent us rather ashame us”. .