Jawaharlal Nehru students and teachers on Monday appealed to Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar to take a stand in favour of the five students who were being looked for by the police in a sedition case and have now surfaced on the campus after being on the run for over 10 days.
"The students were in hiding because they feared mob-lynching and have returned when (they) believed that some normalcy returned on the campus. We want the university VC to take a stand like Jadavpur University and AMU that police will not come on campus," JNU Students Union Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora said while addressing a press conference in New Delhi.
"The VC should also demand from Delhi Police that all charges against the students be dropped as it vitiates academic atmosphere," she said, adding a letter has been submitted to the VC in this regard.
The students union also said the administration has not approached them for a meeting.
"If they want us to share responsibility of handing over these students to police, we will not abide by that," she added.
The JNU Teachers Association in an emergent meeting held on Monday passed a resolution demanding that the "internal mechanism of the university should be allowed to work but only after re-construction of the inquiry panel. We also appeal the administration to maintain a conducive atmosphere to help students appear before the panel."
JNUTA president Ajay Patnaik told reporters, "Even legal luminaries have said that the sedition charge cannot be imposed frivolously, that too on students for mere shouting of slogans. We want the university to take a stand and get these charges dropped."
Police sources said they will ask the VC to hand over the students to them rather than having a crackdown on the campus.
Anant Prakash, one of the five students accused in the JNU controversy, on Monday demanded Vice-Chancellor Kumar take a 'courageous stand' and ensure that all charges against them are dropped.
Prakash also demanded that registrar professor Bupinder Zutshi should be dismissed with immediate effect while holding him responsible for the conspiracies against them.
"The intention of the government is clear. Target the leaders and end politics in the JNU. We want the vice-chancellor to take a courageous stand, get all charges dropped and dismiss the registrar as all the conspiracies have been hatched by the registrar," Prakash told ANI.
"I can only say that a political witch hunt is going on. We are being punished because we speak against the government. I am not being seen in the footage. Was it an offence to be in the Sabarmati Dhaba that day? Then I am not the only accused. Around 100 to 150 people were present there... arrest all of them," he added.
Five students from the JNU, who were being looked for by the police in connection with making 'anti-national' statements at the campus earlier, surfaced at the varsity on Sunday night.
The five students -- Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Anant Prakash -- had gone missing from the campus since February 12 after JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested in a sedition case.
Umar Khalid, described as the chief organiser of the Afzal Guru event, called the charges against him "ridiculous" and said he was worried about threats made to his family, especially his sister.
"For the first time in seven years I felt like a Muslim and that too in the last 10 days. I was reduced to my identity and it is shameful... These people are telling us about patriotism... They may have majority but they are scared of us... they are scared of our struggle, they are afraid of us because we think...," he said to cheers from supporters.
Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters