Former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and others, named in a charge sheet filed by Delhi Police in a sedition case Monday, termed the move as "politically motivated" and questioned its timing, ahead of the parliamentary election. "The charge sheet is politically motivated. However, we want the charges to be framed and a speedy trial in the case so that the truth comes out. We also want to see the videos that have been placed on record as evidence by the police," Kumar told PTI.
He said it was a "diversionary ploy by the Modi government to hide its all-round failures". "I have not received any summons or information from the court. But if it is true, then we are thankful to the police and (Prime Minister) Modi that finally after three years, when it is time for him and his government to go, the charge sheet has been filed. But what is pertinent is the timing of the charge sheet - just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
"It is evident that there is a political motive behind this. The motive is that the Modi government has been a failure in all aspects, it has not been able to fulfil even a single promise, so it is playing all its cards to divert the attention," Kumar told reporters. Pointing out that the charge sheet has been filed after three years of the incident, he said the Modi government, just as all its other promises, was "not serious" and using the issue now as a political tool.
"If the government was really serious about the case and maintained that we did indulge in anti-national activities, then why did it take three years to file the charge sheet, that too just before the polls?" Kumar asked. Delhi Police also charged former students -- Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya -- for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during an event organised on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus on February 9, 2016, to commemorate the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru.
Khalid, who addressed a student gathering at St. Joseph's College in Bangalore on the "role of youth in safeguarding the Constitution", said, "We reject the allegations. The move to file the charge sheet three years after the alleged incident is an attempt to divert the attention (of the people) right before (parliamentary) elections. We will fight it out in court." "We congratulate Delhi Police, the Home Ministry and the government for waking up from their deep slumber three years after February 9, 2016, and barely three months before the general elections 2019 and filing a charge sheet against us," Khalid and Bhattacharya said in a joint statement.
"Lying is an art. It's not enough to just lie. One also has to time it well. A sense of timing, of placement, is what makes one a master liar. And of course, one also needs to stage one's own cheerleaders who would celebrate each of one's lies. That is the role of most of the media today under this regime," they added. Others charged in the case are Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain, Muneeb Hussain, Umar Gul, Rayeea Rassol, Bashir Bhat and Basharat.
As many as 36 others, including Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja's daughter Aprajita, Shehla Rashid (then vice-president of the JNUSU), Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Banojyotsna Lahiri have been named in column 12 of the charge sheet due to insufficient evidence against them, police sources said.
Former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) leader Shehla Rashid, who had led the campaign for Kumar's release and other students, said, "This is a completely bogus case in which ultimately everyone will be acquitted. The timing of the charge sheet right before the elections just reflects how the BJP wants to reap electoral benefits out of this especially after their defeat in the state elections recently. I was not even on campus on the day of the event."
"Modi government has used this manufactured controversy in instalments. The next instalment would be on the nomination day for 2019 elections," tweeted Rashid with"#JitteryModi". CPI Leader D Raja said, "It is politically motivated. After three years Delhi Police is filing the charge sheet in the case. We will fight it legally in court and politically outside court."
The current JNUSU expressed solidarity with those named in the charge sheet. "This submission of the charge sheet after a hiatus of three years is a clear case of vendetta and well-planned instruction from the Prime Minister's Office to whip up a frenzy and browbeat those who have emerged as critical voices to the prime minister," the JNUSU said in a statement. A case was registered on February 11, 2016, under Sections of 124 A (sedition) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code against unknown persons at Vasant Kunj (North) police station following complaints by BJP MP Mahesh Girri and the ABVP.
The February 9 event happened despite the varsity administration having cancelled the permission following a complaint by the ABVP, who had termed it as "anti-national". ABVP leader Saurabh Sharma, who had opposed the event on campus in 2016, welcomed the charge sheet saying "this decision is the victory of ABVP, it is the victory of the facts which were put in front of everyone by the ABVP at that time itself. Moreover, it is a tight slap to the Congress and all other political people supporting them like Rahul Gandhi and Kejriwal". "We believe in the judiciary and wish that it will act hard on those who attacked the pride and dignity of this nation by shouting 'Bharat tere tukde honge'," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)