Delhi High Court has set aside Jawaharlal Nehru University’s move to penalize and fine JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar for his alleged role for “anti-national” activities on February 9 2016, saying the order “suffers from the vice of illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety.”
The “high-level enquiry committee” (HLEC) set up by JNU had in 2016 recommended hefty fines on 14 students and rustication of Umar Khalid. The Delhi High Court had at the time, stayed the punishments and directed JNU to set up an appellate authority to hear students’ appeals and review the HLEC decision. On 5 July, the JNU Administration declared that the appeals panel had upheld most of the HLEC decisions though it had reduced punishments in some cases. The students appealed again in the HC, and the bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul, on July 20, set aside JNU’s actions terming them illegal.
Interestingly, the JNU Administration placed before the Court, a report of a Magisterial Enquiry ordered by the Delhi Government into the 9 February incident, as evidence of their charges against the students. But the investigation by District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar had actually found no evidence against students, and in fact found evidence of widespread fabrication of evidence to frame the students.
The Magisterial Enquiry had found that three out of seven videos of the incident which were sent for verification were found to be doctored including one news clipping of a News Channel found on You-Tube. The videos were doctored to insert the words, “Bandook”, “Sher ke bacche”, and “Hurriyat ke jawaan” and “Pakistan Zindabad.” There was no video where any of the accused students could clearly be proved to be raising the provocative “Tukde Tukde” slogans. Yet channels aired these doctored videos to brand JNU students as ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’! Zee News, which had come to JNU that day on ABVP’s invitation and had given the CD of the video recording of their news telecast of the videos to the police on the basis of which an FIR was filed, did not give the recording to the Magistrate despite repeated requests. The Magistrate had concluded that the videos were doctored, “with possible intention to misguide the public.”
The Magistrate’s Enquiry also found that JNU Administration had also fabricated evidence. “Devendra Singh Bist, Manager of G4S (the Security Firm employed by JNU), gives two distinct set of statements. In the first statement, he attributes distinct slogans to Umar Khalid. The District Magistrate asked him closely whether he heard the slogans from the mouth of Umar Khalid. After the first statement, he changes his statement. Thereafter he admits that he had not specifically heard Umar Khalid uttering these statements: he attributes these sounds to the crowds below.” (Page 24 of the Report)
“Amarjeet Singh, a guard with the G4S testified to the sloganeering by Umar Khalid and gang and admitted on detailed examination was found to have contradictory statements about Umar Khalid. The District Magistrate found that none of the words attributed to Umar Khalid were spoken at that moment.” (Page 24 of the Report)
“VP Yadav was another important witness who gave contradictory statements, one version to the JNU Inquiry Committee, another to the District Magistrate. He submitted before the Internal Committee of JNU that “he heard Kanhaiya giving anti national slogans near the Ganga dhaba.” To the District Magistrate this witness had said that he was not at the Ganga Dhaba. This witness has changed his statement.” (Page 25 of the Report) (Source: http://indianculturalforum.in/2018/01/08/television-as-lynch-mob-district-magistrate-report-on-jnu-incident-raises-questions-of-media-ethics/)
Remember, the Delhi Police is, even after more than two years, yet to file any chargesheet against the students accused of sedition! The entire episode is clearly a planned conspiracy to defame JNU, just like the various fabricated letters miraculously appearing in TV newsrooms but not in Courts, claiming to prove that human rights activists are “Urban Naxals” planning to assassinate the PM.
Another case being heard by Justice Siddharth Mridul pertains to JNU’s rule (illegal because neither tabled, discussed nor passed by JNU’s Academic Council body) requiring students to compulsorily sign attendance registers. On On July 16, the Delhi High Court (Justice Siddharth Mridul) directed JNU that “No coercive steps be taken against the students, in pursuance to the attendance requirements...during the pendency of the writ petition.”
The petition being heard in the High Court was filed by five Deans who were removed by the JNU Administration for not complying with the ‘mandatory attendance register’ circular issued in January 2018.
In all the cases involving JNU, JNU Administration has been represented by senior advocates who are very close to the BJP and the Modi Government. In this attendance register matter, JNU Administration was represented by Aman Lekhi, who is Additional Solicitor General of India in the Supreme Court. Aman Lekhi’s wife Meenakshi Lekhi is a BJP MP. When Justice Mridul said the Court would pass an order preventing students from being punished for non-compliance with an order, the legality of which is being heard by the Court, Aman Lekhi appeared to lose all sense of propriety, saying “students are an “embarrassment to the nation, they are anti-national; they want to break up the country and celebrate Afzal Guru.” Justice Mridul rightly refused to entertain this political rant that was more suited to a Godi TV studio rather than a Courtroom. Then, Aman Lekhi told the Judge, “How can you pass an order?” At which point the Judge reminded him, “We do not need permission to pass orders.” When an ASG representing the Modi Government asks a Judge how he can pass an order, he means “How dare you pass an order of which the Modi regime does not approve?” It is an attempt by the Government to throw its weight behind the illegal decisions of the Sanghi JNU VC, and to intimidate the Court. Is JNU paying Lekhi’s fee or is the Government footing the Bill directly?
On the show titled ‘Loktantra ke mandir men ‘aastha’ ki ladai’ at 7 pm on Zee News on July 20, the anchor Mimansa Malik, at minute 38:00, said to a panelist representing the Congress party ‘chalte chalte bata dijiye ki ram mandir banna chahiye, asli Hindu hain to bol dijiye Charan Singh ji, Ram Mandir banega vivadit sthal par ye bol dijiye, clear ho jayega aapka stand ki aap Hinduon ke hitaishi hain ya ki Musalmanon ke hitaishi hain, Jai shri ram ka naara laga dijiye’. (As we end the show say that the Ram Temple must be built at the disputed site, say the slogan of Jai Shri Ram, that will clear your stand if you represent the interests of Hindus or the interests of Muslims.)
This is deeply divisive and communally polarising, suggesting that a politician must choose between representing the interests of Hindus or Muslims, and that his party cannot represent the interests of both. It suggests that the interests of Hindus and those of Muslims are mutually contradictory. This kind of anchoring blatantly violates the broadcasting code of ethics that states that a news channel must “Ensure neutrality”. It blatantly seeks to divide and partition our beloved country India into ‘tukde’ (pieces) based on ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’. It also goes against Article 15 of the Constitution of India that prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion.
AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan has taken the first step towards complaining to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority about this show. But this show is one among many. And apart from anchors, you also have no shortage of BJP leaders doing divisive talk. Sambit Patra described the Kairana by-election as a “defeat of Hindus and a victory for Muslims.” During Karnataka elections, BJP MLA Sanjay Patil said that the elections were “not about roads and drinking water but Hindu and Muslim religions,” adding “(Those) who want to construct Babri Masjid... who want to celebrate Tipu Sultan’s jayanti...let them vote for Congress. If you want Shivaji Maharaj, if you want Sambhaji Maharaj, if you want those who offer pooja at Lakshmi temple, you will have to vote for BJP.” In April 2018 Rajasthan BJP MLA BL Singhal said “Meo sect of Muslims never votes for BJP. I also do not go to them for votes. Asking for votes from them would mean I would be compelled to help them in getting away with crimes they regularly commit. So I always stay away from them.” In November 2017, campaigning for his wife who was contesting the civic polls in Barabanki district, a local BJP leader, Ranjeet Kumar Srivastava, warned Muslims to vote for her or face “difficulties” (kasht). He said, “You cannot go to the DM, SP to get your work done. None of your leaders can help you. You may face some other difficulties as well. Today, you don’t have any advocates inside the BJP. If you do not, without any discrimination, get our corporators elected… then you will distance yourselves and Samajwadi Party won’t come to your rescue. This is the BJP’s reign. Therefore I am asking Muslims to cast your vote (for us). I am not begging. If you vote (for us), you will be better off. If you don’t vote (for us), the difficulties will become obvious to you.” The list of such statements by BJP leaders could go on and on. They, and their tame TV anchors spewing divisive poison, are the real #TukdeTukdeGang.