New Delhi: Five JNU students, including Umar Khalid, who the police have been looking for in connection with a “sedition” case, on Sunday surfaced on campus, saying they did not do anything wrong but were “framed” using “doctored video”.
While police rushed a team to the campus on receiving information about them, the students maintained that “they will not surrender but police can come and arrest them”.
The five students Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Anant Prakash had gone missing from the campus since February 12 after JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested in a sedition case lodged in connection with an event held on the campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru where anti-naitonal slogans were allegedly raised.
According to Ashutosh, former president of JNU students union and a PhD scholar at varsity’s School of International studies, they “have come back with a view of supporting the enquiry. The massive support we got from students and others from across the globe gave us the strength to return. I, Rama, Anirban and Anant were around but did not come in public due to atmosphere of mob lynching.”
He, however, maintained that the four of them were not in touch with Umar Khalid and had spoken to him last on February 9, the day of the event.
Ashutosh said the students were in Delhi itself and that the decision to return on Sunday evening had been taken individually and not collectively.
“We didn’t do anything wrong but were being framed using doctored video. We will not go anywhere now and will be part of the movement against the branding of university as anti-national,” he said.
The five students also participated in a march, shouting slogans and demanding release of Kanhiaya and addressed a gathering of students at varsity’s administrative block where the protests have been going on ever since the controversy erupted.
Khalid denied that he had any terrorist links, while Anirban maintained that it was the look-out notice issued by police which made him decide to come back.
“I am disturbed at the way I have been attacked and I am also angry at the comments posted against my sister on social media,” Khalid said.
Police said the students have not surrendered and a team has been rushed to the varsity.
“We had received some information about their reported presence on campus. A police team was rushed to the varsity to enquire out after we received information that they were spotted on the campus. The team has right now been positioned outside JNU,” a senior police official said.
“So far nobody has surrendered. The officials at Vasant Kunj North police station have been asked to wait for them to present themselves before the police and surrender. If they don’t come till morning, police team will be sent tomorrow to arrest them. No crackdown can be conducted at this hour,” he added.
When contacted the university officials, maintained that they had no information about their presence in the varsity’s premises.
The varsity Vice Chancellor Jagdesh Kumar later said that the entry for police as well as media persons has been barred for now and a call in this regard will be taken tomorrow morning.
Meanwhile, an emergent meeting of the left-backed All India Students Association (AISA) was underway at the campus to decide futre strategy.
Shehla Rashid, vice president of the JNU students union also spoke to the crowd saying that those accused are innocent.
“They are ready for whatever is going to happen. We know there are policemen inside in plain clothes here,” Rashid said. “We want everything to happen in the glare of the cameras.”
Sources in the university said that few other students which the police had sought information about from the authorities, including Riyaz and Rubina, were also spotted on the campus.