Rohith, not Afzal, my icon, says Kanhaiya

New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on Friday said that Hyderabad University research scholar Rohith Vemula was his icon and not parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

“If you ask me, Afzal Guru is not my icon; Rohith Vemula is my icon,” Kanhaiya told the media here when asked what he thought of Azfal Guru, who was executed in the Tihar Central Jail here on February 9, 2013, for his role in the December 2001 Parliament House terror attack.

“According to me, Guru was a citizen of India and a resident of Jammu and Kashmir. The people have a constitutional right to protest if they think someone did not get justice,” he added.

Rohith Vemula, 26, a Dalit research scholar, was found hanging in a Hyderabad University hostel room on January 17. He was one of the five research scholars suspended by the university in August last year after an assault on an RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad student leader. The suspension was later revoked.

“People who play with our constitution… we have to stand up against their evil designs. The sacrifices of our (army) jawans and our farmers who commit suicide… and Rohith Vemula… will not go waste. They are trying to divide the country,” the JNU student leader said without naming anyone.

Kanhaiya, who did not evade even a single question from the media, said: “I am not a politician. That’s why I will not run away from your questions. I am a student. I want to become a teacher in future, so it is my responsibility to answer all questions.”

Arrested on February 12 on sedition charge, the JNU students leader was released from the Tihar Jail on Thursday evening after the Delhi High Court granted him interim bail for six months.

Condemning the February 9 event on the campus where anti-national slogans were raised, Kanhaiya said: “We strongly condemn what happened at the university on February 9. It’s for the court to decide if that was ‘raaj droh’ (sedition) or not. We’ve full faith in the judiciary and the constitution.”

“Despite all efforts, they (government) have not been able to fabricate truth. The constitution is not a video that can be doctored,” said Kanhaiya.

Kanhaiya also asserted that JNU students could never be anti-national.

“I want to tell this to the country’s people that we study at the JNU with subsidy generated from the taxes paid by you. I want to assure the taxpayers of this country that a JNU student can never be anti-national,” the JNUSU leader said.

“Your tax money is not used to fund any anti-national activities in the JNU. There is a conspiracy to defame the JNU.”

“There are some dark clouds… I want to tell them that there will be rain after the dark clouds. These dark clouds can’t hide the red sun and the blue skies. The rain will push away the dark clouds.”

Kanhaiya said that the law on sedition was a “black law” and it was framed by the British to supress the voice against injustice during the British Raj.

“Sedition law is a black law and shouldn’t be used on students. We understand the limits of freedom of speech. We don’t want freedom from the country, but freedom within the country. We want to make the country stronger and united. There is a difference between ‘raaj droh’ (sedition) and ‘desh droh’ (treason),” said Kanhaiya.

“I personally feel that sedition charges against JNU students Umar (Khalid) and Anirban (Bhattacharjee) and others should be withdrawn,” he added.

“Our government has become the government of one party. Not just one party, but one office. We have to make them realise that they are here for the whole country. They are answerable to parliament. I have no personal differences with them, only ideological differences,” the JNU student leader said.