NEW DELHI -- It has been a rough week for the Kanhaiya Kumar, a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, who is facing a sedition
charge by the Modi government for making a speech which really doesn't seem to have any "anti-national" content.
Not only is he charged with a crime which is punishable with life imprisonment, the PhD candidate from Bihar, whose mother is an Aganwadi worker and his father suffers from paralysis, was assaulted by lawyers while he was making his way to the courtroom for his hearing on Wednesday afternoon.
Even as he confronts the might of the state, contends with vigilante lawyers at the Patiala House Court, and is condemned by certain sections of the media, Kumar stood up in court and declared himself to be "an Indian who has full faith in the constitution."
The JNU student, who is researching on 'Social Transformation in South Africa 1994-2005,' also told the court that he does not want a "media trial."
"I have said earlier too. I am an Indian. I have full faith in the Constitution as well as the judiciary of the country,” Kumar told metropolitan magistrate Lovleen.
“The media trial against me is painful. If there is evidence against me that I am a traitor, then you please send me to jail. But if there no evidence against me, there should be no media trial,” he said in a statement at the start of the proceedings, The Hindu reported.
His statement was made in Hindi.
Kumar was arrested for a speech he gave following an event at JNU to mark the third anniversary of Afzal Guru's execution on Feb. 9. Convicted of masterminding the 2001 attack, he was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in 2005 and executed in 2013.
According to BJP President Amit Shah, slogans raised included, "Afzal we are ashamed because your killers are free,"War will continue until Kashmir's freedom," "Go India Go Back" and "Long live Pakistan," but it has been widely pointed out that Kumar's speech did not have objectionable material.
People remain deeply polarized over the JNU crisis. While one side believes that slapping sedition charges against Kumar is a massive overreach by the authorities, the other side wants stern action against students who are accused off eulogizing a terrorist and raising anti-national slogans on campus.
Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi also posted "an appeal by Kanhaiya" on Twitter.
"I believe in the peace and unity of India and I do not endorse any unconstitutional activities. I oppose the unfortunate event which occurred in our university on February 9," he said in the appeal.
Calling for peace, Kumar said that he did not endorse the anti-national slogans which were raised by some students from JNU and some outsiders.
An appeal issued by Kanhaiya pic.twitter.com/mzbSMQgkN4
— BS Bassi (@BhimBassi) February 17, 2016