Saurabh Kumar Sharma, joint secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) is witness to entire episode that took place in JNU on the night of February 9 and thereafter. He was among the students and AVBP activists who registered their protest against the anti-national event. Organiser Senior Correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to him to have the first hand account of that night. Excerpts:
- What exactly happened in JNU?
On February 9, we noticed the posters of the event around 12 pm in the campus and immediately brought it to the notice of the Vice Chancellor. I also wrote to Proctor, Registrar, Dean of Students and Security officer requesting them to take precautionary measures. At night, I also wrote to the SHO Vasant Kunj north police station informing about the incident and demanding inquiry in this regard.
- What was there in the posters?
The posters basically said to segregate Kashmir from Bharat, described the hanging of Afzal and Maqbool Bhatt as judicial killings, etc. It was anti-Bharat at the first glance itself.
- But the permission was sought in the name of cultural event?
We also wonder why the University administration granted them permission. The permission was granted by Associate Dean of Student Ms Mahalaxmi. Finding no positive response from the authorities, I informed the media at around 4 pm that ABVP would protest against the event. Around 5 pm, I heard that the VC cancelled the permission to the event. Even then we went there, because we suspected that they would not refrain from organising the event. We reached Sabarmati Dhaba at around 5.15 pm. They had got the permission to organise the event at Badminton Court. But instead of using the Court they gathered at adjoining Sabarmati Dhaba. Since the permission had been cancelled, organising the event anywhere in the campus was illegal. As they started the event at around 5.45 pm, we registered our protest. They were shouting anti-Bharat slogans, while we were shouting Bharat Mata ki Jai.
- You claimed somebody threatened you with a pistol?
The sloganeering from both side continued till 7.30 pm. After that they started a Candle March and proceeded towards us. They manhandled the girl students with us. This all is recorded in the video footage. One of them threatened me to shoot by showing a pistol. When we tried to nab him he ran away and mixed in the crowed. Many of them had covered their faces. They reached Ganga Dhaba around 9 pm where they started delivering hate speeches and again shouting the same anti-Bharat slogans. Kanhaiya Kumar, president of JNU Students Union, Rama Naga, general secretary, were also there. Aprajita, daughter of CPI leader D Raja, was also there.
- Were all of them JNU students or some were from outside also?
Many, including girls, were from outside and they had covered their faces.
- The event took place on February 9, but it was noticed after two days. Why?
Zee News covered it the same day. Later some other channels also covered it realising that one cannot talk about dividing the country in the name of freedom of speech and expression. The incident was directly a challenge to the unity and integrity of the nation.
- Were some academicians also there during the event?
I could not see anyone. But the way some of them supported these elements or joined them later shows their involvement. JNUTA president Ajay Patnaik, Kavita Krishnan, Anuradha Chinoy, Kamalmitra Chinoy, etc. They all are seen in the video footage. No march was taken out in the campus condemning the anti-national incident on February 10 and 11. But when the police arrested Kanhaiya Kumar, they all became active. This shows their clandestine support to anti-national activity.
- But the image of JNU has received a major dent.
There is a big section of students and academicians in JNU, who are nationalist. Only a handful of people, perhaps with outside support, are trying to malign the image of the reputed institution.
- How do you look at the support extended by Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal to these elements?
Not only Rahul Gandhi or Kejriwal, but also people like Sitaram Yechuri, D Raja, Anand Sharma tried to draw political mileage from it.
- What do you expect from the Government of India?
The Government should punish the guilty. Those whose names were there in the poster and also those who are seen in the video clippings should be punished. At the same time we also urge the government not to harass any innocent. But if the guilty were left unpunished, they will indulge in the same types of activities in any other part of Bharat in future also.