JNU sedition case: Chargesheet filed against Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and others

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JNU sedition case: Chargesheet filed against Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and others
JNU sedition case: Chargesheet filed against Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and others

New Delhi : Three years after former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested for alleged sedition, the Delhi police on Monday filed a chargesheet naming them and seven Kashmiri students as accused in the case.

The chargesheet was filed before Metropolitan Magistrate Sumeet Anand, who posted the matter for further hearing on Tuesday. The police have slapped charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) dealing with sedition, voluntarily causing hurt, forgery, using as genuine a forged document, punishment for unlawful assembly, unlawful assembly with common object, rioting and criminal conspiracy.

Both Kumar and Khalid have questioned the filing of the chargesheet ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and said the police action was "politically motivated" and a "diversionary ploy" by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government.

The case involves an event organsied on the JNU campus in February 2016 against the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru during which "anti-national slogans" were raised.

Besides Kumar, the then Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) president, former students union vice president Shehla Rashid and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja's daughter Aparajita have also been named in the chargesheet, but not as accused.

While 36 others, including Rashid and Aparajita, have also been named for being present at the controversial event, the police have not "found any sufficient and incrimanting evidence" against them.

Along with Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya, seven students from Jammu and Kashmir -- Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain, Muneeb Hussain, Umar Gul, Rayeea Rassol, Bashir Bhat and Basharat-- have been slapped with various offences, including sedition, unlawful assembly and criminal conspiracy.

The police claim to have sufficient evidence to proceed against them.

The police have listed around 90 people, which include JNU staff and security personnel, as witnesses in the case. CCTV and mobile footage are also a part of chargesheet.

Kanhaiya Kumar 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 Modi that finally after 3 years, when it is time is for him and his government to go, the chargesheet 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," he told the media.

Pointing to the chargesheet being filed after 3 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.

Shehla Rashid too accused the Modi government of using the issue to derive political mileage.

"Modi government has used this manufactured controversy in installments. The next installment would be on the nomination day for 2019 elections," tweeted Rashid with hashtag "JitteryModi" .

Denying the charges, Khalid said the Modi government was trying to change the narrative in an election year to hide its failure.