March 4, 2016: Kanhaiya Kumar, JNUSU President, returns to JNU after release on bail. He was earlier arrested for allegedly raising anti-national slogans on February 9. Received by three thousand students and teachers gathered at Administration Building, Kanhaiya addressed all present with incomparable zest.
Not very far from this were twenty students from ABVP protesting against ‘witch-hunting, victimization, stigmatization and trauma inflicted upon the [right wing cadre]’.
Shehla Rashid Shora, JNUSU Vice-President said, a new phase of the movement shall begin, for the President himself will be at the helm of matters.
The gathering was enthralled by discussions about unwarranted media trials and their right to dissent. Posters and placards displayed in the demonstration read ‘Manusmriti’ Irani in criticism of the HRD Minister Smriti Zubin Irani’s remarkable ‘performance’ during the parliament debate, along side were portraits of Bhim Rao Ambedkar exhalting the dalit hero.
Students and teachers had started gathering at Administration Building as early as five in the evening, sloganeering and speaking to the media present at the site.
The demonstration began at 9:30 PM at Ganga Dhaba where Secretary, JNUSU, Rama Naga expressed gratitude for overwhelming participation by student community. Amidst all cheering he informed all about Kanhaiya’s presence on campus.
A large section of the students believes their Student Union President has been a victim of state oppression and now, for them has become champion of civil liberties.
Standing at Ad-Block stairs, surrounded by three thousand students and teachers who incessantly fought against all odds for his release, Kanhaiya made his ‘Azadi’ speech.
Mixing exhortations to avoid targeting of ABVP activists, he warned all about the rising ‘hindutva’ forces.
As the nation witnessed his speech, Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal quickly tweeted calling it “brilliant”.
Having spent three weeks largely in solitary confinement while awaiting bail, Kanhaiya Kumar kept his composure by ruminating on rampant caste discrimination, constant farmer suicides and failures of the current government headed by Prime Minster Narendra Damodardas Modi to deliver so called ‘acche din’.
At one point, he said in a soft but resolute voice about the poor economic condition of his family and how JNU made it possible for him to pursue his PhD. Kanhaiya Kumar is a student at Centre of African Studies in School of International Studies.
‘Azaadi’ (Freedom) has now become symbolic of everyone’s right to dissent. He has promised to continue fighting for their jailed comrades – Anirban and Umar. After twenty-two glorious nights in prison, his voice resonated with many others beneath the night sky of March with cries of ‘Laal Salaam’ .
Kumar Prashant is a BA student and works for The Informer.
Aakanksha D’cruz is an MA student and works for The Informer.