16/03/2016 8:07 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Outsiders With Faces Covered With Cloth Raised Anti-National Slogans, JNU Probe Panel Finds

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 15: JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar speaks the gathering after the march from Mandi House to Parliament today to demand the release of Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya on March 15, 2016 in New Delhi, India. The JNU or Jawaharlal Nehru University has sent notice to 21 students including Kanhaiya Kumar over a controversial February 9 event in support of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, in which anti-India slogans were raised. Kanhaiya Kumar, charged with sedition for his alleged role in the event, was released from jail earlier this month after three weeks in jail. Two others, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, are still in jail.(Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

A high-level inquiry committee set up by the Jawaharlal Nehru University has found that alleged anti-national slogans were raised on February 9 by a group outsiders who had their faces covered with cloth, according to reports. The Indian Express reported that security staff and eyewitnesses present on the campus verified their presence.

The committee also observed that it was "unfortunate" that the students of JNU allowed that to happen and that holding the event despite cancellation of permission was an act of "willful defiance".

The panel has also pointed out lapses on part of the university's security unit, saying it did not make any efforts to stop outsiders from shouting provocative slogans and stop them from leaving the campus.

"The organisers disobeyed the instructions from the administration about not holding the event. This amounts to willful defiance. It is most unfortunate that the organisers allowed the event to be taken over by a group of outsiders who created a charged atmosphere by raising provocative slogans.

This act by outsiders has brought disrepute to the entire JNU community.

"This act by outsiders has brought disrepute to the entire JNU community," the report of the five-member panel said.

"The committee also notes that none of the JNUSU office-bearers acted with due responsibility. The office-bearers had to behave with even more restraint and caution befitting the position they hold. They need to rise above the politics and other differences as they represent the student community. It is unbecoming of student representatives that they should be found engaging in disorderly conduct or condoning it," it added.

The report has two sections -- findings and recommendations.

The section of findings has been shared by the university with 21 students who have been issued a show-cause notice in this connection, the recommendations have been kept out of public domain.

Highly-placed sources in the university told PTI that the panel, which submitted its report on March 11, has recommended rustication of five students including JNU Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya who are facing sedition charge.

While the panel has identified a few students guilty of procuring permission from the university on false pretext, it has also noted that the Dean of Students (DoS) should have withdrawn the permission in writing and not by sending text message to the Chief Security Officer.

The Dean's office was not vigilant enough to anticipate and prevent this event. Security did not make any efforts to stop outsiders from shouting provocative slogans and prevent them from leaving the campus.

"It has to be noted that since the event had taken place in 2015 as well, the Dean's office was not vigilant enough to anticipate and prevent this event. Security did not make any efforts to stop outsiders from shouting provocative slogans and prevent them from leaving the campus," the report said.

The Express report quoted OP Yadav, operations manager of G4S security, as having told the panel that the students reached Sabarmati around 4:45 pm. Khalid and Anirban put up posters, set up a public address system and started addressing the gathered students. Soon slogans of ‘Kashmir ke log sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hain’, ‘Afzal Guru zindabad’, ‘Manipur maange azadi’, ‘Nagaland maange azadi’, ‘Kashmir maange azadi’ were raised.

A meeting of the university's top brass, chaired by the Vice Chancellor, today discussed the report following which the varsity issued show-cause notice to 21 students including Kanhaiya and Umar, who were found guilty of having violated university rules and discipline norms.

The committee was formed on February 10 to probe the event organised to protest hanging of Afzal Guru, the Parliament attack convict. Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban were arrested on charges of sedition in connection with the programme.

Kanhaiya was released on bail from Tihar on March 3 while Umar and Anirban are still in judicial custody.

The university had on March 11 revoked the academic suspension of eight students including Kanhaiya after completion of the probe by the five-member panel. It was decided to keep them under suspension from academic activities till the inquiry was over. However, they were allowed to stay in the hostels.

The panel, which was granted three extensions before it finally submitted its report, also faced difficulties in the probe as students refused to depose before it demanding that the inquiry be constituted afresh.

The varsity, however, turned down the demand and maintained that the students will be given three chances to appear before the disciplinary committee and, if they fail to do so, the panel will finalise its recommendations on the basis of evidence available.

The university authorities maintained that a final decision regarding the "quantum of punishment" will be taken on basis of the reply sent by students to show-cause notices by tomorrow evening.

(Inputs from PTI)

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