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Kanhaiya Kumar

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Kanhaiya Kumar
Kanhaiya Kumar.jpg
Born January 1987
Begusarai, Bihar, India
Nationality Indian
Education Pursuing Ph.D. in African Studies at JNU (From 2011)
Occupation Student leader
Organization All India Students Federation

Kanhaiya Kumar is a former President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union. He is also a leader of the All India Students Federation (AISF), the student wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI).

In February 2016, he was arrested and accused of sedition by the Delhi police for allegedly doing nothing to prevent the alleged of raising anti-India slogans in a student rally.[1] The rally was called to protest the 2013 hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist convicted for the 2001 Indian Parliament attack.[2] Kumar was released on interim bail on 2 March 2016 for lack of conclusive evidence.[3][4] Kumar denied the charges, and upon his release, gave a speech in favour of freedom in India.[5] As of September 2018, the Delhi police has not yet filed the chargesheet in the sedition case.[6]

In parallel, a disciplinary committee constituted by JNU's Vice-Chancellor also investigated the event and stated that the organizers had circumvented the 'permission process' for the event. The university took disciplinary action against the people involved, including imposing a fine of Rs 10,000 on Kumar.[7][8][9][10] Which is later set aside by Delhi high court where court termed the committee decision as 'illegal, irrational and irregular' against kanhiya kumar.[11][12]

Early life and political career

Kumar in 2016

Kanhaiya Kumar was born in January 1987,[13] and brought up in the village of Bihat (near Barauni) in Begusarai district, Bihar. Kanhaiya was born into an upper caste community in Bihar.[5][14] The village is part of the Teghra legislative assembly constituency, known to be a stronghold of the Communist Party of India (CPI).[15] Kumar's father, Jaishankar Singh, owns about an acre of farmland and currently paralysed. His mother, Meena Devi, is an Anganwadi worker. He has an elder brother, Manikant, who works as a supervisor with a company in Assam.[16]. His family members have traditionally been supporters of the CPI.[17]

Kanhaiya Kumar studied till Class VI at Madhya Vidyalaya, Masnadpur, in Bihar, before joining R. K. C. High School in Barauni, an industrial town in Bihar.[13] During his school days, Kumar took part in several plays and activities organized by IPTA (Indian People's Theatre Association), a left-leaning cultural group going back to the days of India's freedom struggle. He cleared his Class X board exams in 2002 with a first division.[13] After school, Kanhaiya joined the Ram Ratan Singh College at Mokama, around 25 km west of Bihat, taking up science in Class XI-XII.[13] Kanhaiya graduated with a degree in geography from the College of Commerce, Patna in 2007, earning a "first class. " While at the College of Commerce, he began his involvement in student politics.[18] He joined the AISF and a year later was selected as a delegate at its conference in Patna. After completing his post graduation with an MA in sociology from Nalanda Open University in Patna, again securing a first class, Kanhaiya Kumar moved to Delhi and after ranking first in the JNU entrance exam in 2011,[19] joined JNU where he is currently pursuing a PhD in African studies at the School of International Studies.[20]

In 2015 September, Kanhaiya Kumar became the first AISF member to become president of the JNU students' union, defeating the AISA (All India Students Association), ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad), SFI (Students' Federation of India) and NSUI (National Students' Union of India) candidates.[citation needed]

Kumar's autobiography, Bihar to Tihar: My Political Journey was published in October 2016. The book is his story from his childhood in rural Bihar, college days in Patna, to his political coming of age in Delhi.[citation needed]

On 29 April 2018, he was elected to the 125-member party national council of the Communist Party of India (CPI).[21]

2016 sedition controversy

On 12 February 2016, Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested by the Delhi police. A case was registered against him on 13 February, under Indian Penal Code Sections 124-A (sedition) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy). He was charged over an event organised by some students at the Jawaharlal Nehru university campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, following complaints by Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament Maheish Girri and the ABVP. Kanhaiya Kumar denied the charges and said that he was neither shouting any slogan nor saying anything against integrity of the country. He said in an interview that "I dissociate myself from the slogans which were shouted in the event. I have full faith in the Constitution of the country and I always say that Kashmir is an integral part of India".[22] During his interrogation Kanhaiya insisted that he did not say anything that was seditious.[23]

Kanhaiya Kumar's arrest soon snowballed into a major political controversy and has drawn sharp reactions from opposition parties, teachers, students and academics. Students at Jawaharlal Nehru University went on strike over Kanhaiya Kumar's arrest, effectively paralysing the University.[24]

Kanhaiya Kumar's parents have stated that their son was being victimized for his opposition to Hindutva politics.[25] When Kumar was brought to the Patiala House court on 15 February 2016, JNU students and professors, as well as journalists, were attacked by a group of lawyers. BJP MLA O.P. Sharma was also involved in the assault, although he later denied the charge.[26] On 17 February, Kumar was once again assaulted by some lawyers inside the Patiala House court.[27] On 22 February 2016, India Today broadcast a video in which three lawyers of the Patiala House court claimed that they had beaten Kanhaiya Kumar while the latter was in police custody.[28] A six-member Supreme Court-appointed panel later confirmed that the policemen present at the Court were responsible for the security lapses, and further stating that police allowed 2 persons to enter the court room, and continued to let the assault take place, in direct violation of the SC direction on Kanhaiya's safety.[29]

On 2 March 2016, Kumar was granted interim bail for 6 months by the Delhi High Court, conditional on a 10,000 rupee bail bond and an undertaking that he would not "participate in any anti-national activity."[30] Justice Pratibha Rani noted that there were no recordings of Kumar participating in anti-national slogans. Going beyond the immediate issue, the judge also held that the alleged slogans threaten national integrity and cannot be considered as free speech. She characterized them as a form of "infection," which can either be treated or, in some cases, "amputation is the only treatment."[3][31] A separate magisterial investigation appointed by the Delhi Government did not find any evidence of Kanhaiya Kumar participating in anti-national slogans.[4] The raw video footage of the controversial event obtained from a TV channel on a CD, based on which a sedition case was registered against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, was found genuine by the CBI forensic lab.[32]

On 3 March 2016, Kanhaiya Kumar gave a speech to a packed auditorium in the JNU campus, during which he said he was seeking, not freedom from India, but freedom within India. He appealed to his fellow students to free the nation from the clutches of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which, he stated, was trying to divide the nation. Referring to the ABVP(right wing student organization), whose members were instrumental in bringing about his arrest, he called them his "opposition", not his enemy. He urged his supporters to keep raising the slogans of azadi (freedom).[33][34][35] The speech won accolades from the leaders of non-BJP parties as well as independent commentators.[36][37][38][39] Shashi Tharoor commented that it turned Kumar into a "nationwide political star," and congratulated BJP for creating his phenomenon.[40] Some people also expressed concern that his speech did not address "the graveness of alleged anti-national slogans" shouted at JNU and what he did to stop them.[41]

Following his release from jail, Kumar has faced bounties and death threats. Kuldeep Varshnay, a leader of the youth wing of BJP was expelled from the organisation for offering Rs 5 lakh as a reward to anyone who cut off Kumar's tongue.[42] Posters were put up in New Delhi offering Rs 11 lakh as a reward to anyone who shoots Kumar.[43] Adarsh Sharma who allegedly put up these posters was arrested on 7 March 2016.[44] A high-level inquiry committee of Jawaharlal Nehru University found out that provocative slogans at the controversial 9 February event inside the campus were raised by a group of outsiders, wearing masks.[45]

The JNU Students Union (JNUSU) president, Mr Kahaiya Kumar and 19 other students are on an indefinite hunger strike since 28 April to protest against the punishment handed out to them by a high-level committee that probed the controversial from 9 February Kashmir event on the campus.[46] However, he withdrew from the hunger owing to medical reasons on the tenth day.[47] Following his withdrawal, the Delhi HC directed Kanhaiya to speak to the other students for withdrawing from the hunger strike.[48]

Other controversies

Statements alleging human rights violations by the Indian Army

On 8 March 2016, speaking at an International Women's Day event, Kumar referred to the rape of Kashmiri women committed by personnel of the Indian Army. Kumar is reported to have said; "No matter how much you try to stop us, we will speak up against human rights violations. We will raise our voice against AFSPA. While we have a lot of respect for our soldiers, we will still talk about the fact that in Kashmir women are raped by security personnel." This speech was criticised as being "anti-national" by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the BJP The BJYM filed a complaint in a Delhi police station against Kumar and JNU professor Nivedita Menon, alleging that they made "anti-national" statements.[49] Mayank Tiwari, a BJP worker in Bihar, filed sedition and defamation case against Kumar in a civil court in Patna.[50][51] Jitendra Tiwari and Farooq Khan, leaders of the Youth Congress in Allahabad, published a poster attacking Kumar for statements that were supposedly derogatory towards the army.[52]

Alleged threatening of a female student

On 10 March 2016, Kamlesh Narwana, Ex JNU student unveiled an unsigned University order dated 16 October 2015, according to which, Kanhaiya Kumar was fined by the JNU administration last year for "misbehaving" with a girl student and "threatening" her. It was subsequently reported via Press Trust of India that "the university administration confirmed in a statement that the letter[order] was authentic and action was taken against the student leader".[53][54][55] Narwana, who is currently an Assistant Professor at the Delhi University, wrote an open letter to Kumar and posted it on Facebook, in which she stated that Kumar was urinating in the open and, when she objected, he became abusive and threatened her, following which she filed a complaint against him with JNU proctor office in June 2015. The student wing of CPI, All India Students' Federation, the organisation of which Kumar is a member, also came out to react, stating that the case was an attempt to defame Kanhaiya and to tarnish his image given the suspicious timing of the news; even as it acknowledged the case of public urination, it maintained that Kumar had not misbehaved with Narwana but may have had a verbal argument.[56][57][58]

Subsequent attacks on Kumar

On 10 March 2016, Kumar was manhandled and abused on the JNU campus by a man who accused him of being a "deshdrohi" (traitor). The man was later identified as Vikas Chaudhary of Gaziabad, who stated that he wanted to "teach Kanhaiya a lesson". Addressing students later in the day, Kumar said such incidents couldn't scare him. "You can kill me, you can silence me but you cannot scare me. But before you kill me, think about Rohith Vemula. When you killed one Rohith, several Rohiths came forward. If you kill someone else now, many others will stand up. This is all happening as part of a plan." [59]

On 15 March 2016, four people tried to attack Kanhaiya Kumar in separate instances. The attacks occurred during a march in New Delhi of JNU students and staff led by Kumar, demanding the release of the students who had been arrested and charged with sedition. Three individuals shouted abuses at Kumar during his speech near the Parliament Street police station before being taken away by the police, while another managed to climb the truck over which Kumar was standing while addressing the gathering. The fourth man was also taken away by the police before he could reach Kumar. The four men were released from custody later in the evening.[60]

On 28 March 2016, Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena's national president, Amit Jani, posted a threat on Facebook that his organisation will storm the JNU campus and gun down Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid unless the two leave Delhi by 31 March.[61]

See also

References

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Further reading

External links