Jawaharlal Nehru University students who have been punished by the university in connection with the controversial February 9 event began an indefinite hunger strike to demand revocation of punitive action on Wednesday.
JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya along with other students started the hunger strike at night and said they reject the findings and recommendations of the high-level inquiry committee that probed the incident.
Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban Bhattachayra were arrested on the charge of sedition in February in connection with an event on campus against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised. They are out on bail now.
“We have been maintaining right from the beginning that we have no faith in the probe committee. We are all sitting on hunger strike against the arbitrary punishments given to us. The inquiry was a sham and students have rejected it in our general body meeting. We will not abide by the punishment given to us,” JNUSU general secretary Rama Naga said.
The students took out a march late night from Ganga Dhaba to administration block against the action.
While Kanhaiya has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 10,000 on grounds of “indiscipline and misconduct”, Umar, Anirban and Kashmiri student Mujeeb Gatoo have been rusticated for varied durations.
Fourteen students have been imposed financial penalty, hostel facilities of two students have been withdrawn and university has declared the campus out of bounds for two former students.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad member Saurabh Sharma, who was complainant in the case lodged over the event, has also been slapped with a penalty of Rs 10,000 for blocking traffic.
Five members of ABVP have been sitting on hunger strike since Tuesday, alleging that the university is “criminalising” patriotism.
The university officials, however, maintained that the decision has been taken after thorough investigation by a five-member probe panel and are in accordance with varsity norms.
Image: JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar with Umar Khalid and other students carry out a torch parade at JNU campus in New Delhi. Photograph: Kamal Singh/PTI