JNU row reaches Prez’s door as both sides stage protests
Rahul says nationalism in his blood; BJP rallies support against ‘anti-nationals’
NEW DELHI: A snowballing political row over the JNU crisis reached the President’s doorstep on Thursday as Congress vicepresident Rahul Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal attacked the Centre and sought Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention to resolve the issue.
Gandhi accused the BJP-led government of crushing students for opposing the RSS’s “flawed and dead” ideology on a day of protests and counter-protests across the country over the simmering controversy.
His remarks came against the backdrop of attempts by the ruling BJP and fringe groups to turn a debate on the arrest of the university’s student union leader over alleged anti-India comments into a matter of the country’s honour by branding dissenters “traitors”.
“The government wants to crush anyone who opposes this ideology. The government’s job is to protect students, not crush them,” said Gandhi after leading a delegation to meet Mukherjee.
Thousands of students, teachers and members of civil society spilled into the streets of the Capital, from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar, protesting a police crackdown at the university and the arrest of its student union president Kanhaiya Kumar on “trumped-up” charges of sedition.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal who met the President later said action should be taken against those who shouted anti-national slogans at an event in JNU commemorating Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, but he criticised the Centre for failing to catch the “four to five students” who were involved.
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JNU students and supporters demand the release of student leader Kanhaiya Kumar in New Delhi on Thursday.