Delhi’s JNU paralyzed by protests after student leader arrested for sedition

BACKjnuprotestDelhi’s Jawarharlal Nehru University has been virtually paralysed by protests after the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, a student leader who has been charged with sedition.

Kumar is the president of JNU’s students union and was arrested after some students held a rally against the 2013 hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist convicted for an attack on India’s parliament.

The sprawling campus is now tense as several hundred students are staging a sit-in in front of the university’s main administrative block, demanding Kanhaiya Kumar be freed. They chant, and shout ‘shame, shame’, as speaker after speaker condemns the police action.

Reports say at the heart of the row is a fight between the political right and left, and India’s mainstream political parties play an active role in campus politics in the major universities. Many student leaders have gone on to successful political careers, including India’s current Finance Minister Arun Jaitley a former Delhi university student leader.

India’s sedition law dates back to 1870. It has rarely been upheld by India’s courts, but anyone charged under the law cannot apply for bail and so can be instantly imprisoned.