Date
24 July 2017
Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University attend a protest inside the university campus in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: Reuters
Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University attend a protest inside the university campus in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: Reuters

Student leader’s arrest sparks wave of campus protests in India

Protests spread across Indian university campuses on Monday after the Narendra Modi government arrested a Delhi student union leader last week on charges of sedition.

In the largest rally, thousands of students and academics at New Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) boycotted classes and erected barricades for a fourth day, Reuters reported.

“The government does not want students to have a say,” Rahila Parween, vice-president of the Delhi unit of the All India Students’ Federation, a left-wing student union, was quoted as saying.

“It wants to dictate what students think, understand and say.”

Students are outraged over the arrest of JNU’s left-wing student leader Kanhaiya Kumar last Friday after a demonstration that authorities have called anti-Indian.

Kumar is accused of organizing a rally to mark the anniversary of the execution of a Kashmiri separatist, who had been convicted of a 2001 attack on India’s parliament that left 10 people dead.

Members of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party accused the student leader of “anti-India” sentiment.

One BJP lawmaker said the university, which has a tradition of left-wing politics, should be shut down.

But the government’s critics have accused the regime of seeking to repress freedom of expression and crushing dissent. 

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