Maheish Girri is a first-time MP from the BJP from the East Delhi constituency. He's been involved in spirituality, social work and Bollywood before entering politics. But he recently made headlines when he filed an FIR against students in JNU for shouting anti-India slogans.
He spoke to ScoopWhoop about the entire controversy. Here are edited excerpts:
You filed the first FIR in the case. How did that happen?
When I saw the footage of the anti-national slogans that were been chanted in the JNU campus, I spoke to students there. And when I found out that these slogans had been used I was surprised that in the capital of this country slogans like "Pakistan zindabad", "Bharat tere tukde hazaar honge", "Bharat ke barbaadi tak jung jaari rahegi" were being used.
I felt this was a major threat to the nation and called the police station to ask if there was any FIR filed in this matter and I found out that they hadn't. So I went straight to the police station and filed a complaint which was made an FIR.
There are many who have said the charge of sedition applied on the students is too harsh. What do you have to say?
If you see in this case, they are being called 'bacche' to be let off the hook. They say children make errors. But those children, those students who are 25-26 years of age have the understanding to make their careers. And the biggest fact is that they know that these slogans are anti-national. So will you call this knowledge ignorance? Of course not. They know fully what they are doing.
Now there are revelations that these students are joining Naxalism, some of them are joining terrorism. Their links are slowly being exposed.
Where have they got the courage to do this? In some way or the other these students have a bent towards Naxalism and terrorism. These links are slowly being exposed. Without that they wouldn't have the courage.
Do you think that the action taken against students is enough?
There are a lot of exposes taking place in this case. After these arrests and the future arrests that will be made, their links will slowly emerge. First it was believed that just kids had done it. Once the arrests began it has become clearer whose hand is behind this.
Is it that that there are sleeping (sic) cells operational? Are there any underground activities taking place? Is this becoming a threat to the nation? I feel if we wait for some time and there are proper investigations then a lot of things will be revealed.
There are some who say that the Afzal Guru debate is among the things that should be discussed in the studies of humanities. What is your view?
The country's supreme authority is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has given him the death penalty. It is an institution that functions with great care and with great responsibility. When it has given the death penalty it has done that after great contemplation and investigation.
So when the supreme authority has done this then what is left to debate in the matter? There is nothing to be gained from debating it.
If it does (become a subject of debate), then it is unfortunate for the nation.
In a tweet you had said the JNU should be restored to an institute of excellence. What is missing in the institute presently and what would you like to see done?
I would like to say that this isn't a battle against JNU but against those students who are indulging in such activities. It is very necessary to clean the institute up of them.
Let's clean up JNU. In JNU, where such anti-national topics are being discussed why not create a good environment? There should be freedom but there should be limits. There should be freedom of speech, but we should ensure this freedom of speech doesn't become dangerous for the country.
Would you like to elaborate on how this can be done?
Every student who comes there comes there to study, debates are held of various kinds. If there are talks against the nation openly it becomes wrong. If you watch a film or drama in which a character may shout "Pakistan zindabad". But that is part of a film and about how the nation triumphs against it. But there is never a situation where there is a protest against a character in a film saying that or blocking its release.
But if you shout slogans against India openly, and in a planned way, and you indulge in activities to incite people, then it is not part of a debate. You have declared war. And when it is a matter of war then one can't keep silent.
The students made it a battleground.
What is your message for students of JNU where there is a strike on?
I would tell everyone that every one of us who has gone to JNU: there should be an atmosphere of free speech in the institution. But it shouldn't become a battleground. Because JNU is there only while the country exists. If we can't save the nation then how will we save JNU?
The nation's safety and the nation come first. If we keep that in mind and work in JNU then we will be able to create a good atmosphere in the institution.
There was a lot of controversy about the violence outside court yesterday. What is your view on that?
I never support violence or the taking of law in one's own hands. And never will. I believe that the police and army are aware of their responsibilities. I can never support violence that breaks the boundaries of the law or actions that involve the taking of law into one's own hands.