Provocative slogans at the controversial February 9 event on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus were raised by a group of outsiders, a high-level inquiry committee of the university as said, noting it was “unfortunate” that the students allowed that to happen. It said holding of the event despite cancellation of permission was an act which amounts to “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.

b’Kanhaiya Kumar during his speech at the JNU / Source: PTI’

“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 panel also found Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya- who are in judicial custody in a sedition case, “guilty” of arousing communal, caste or regional feeling or creating disharmony among students. In show-cause notices sent to Anirban and Umar through the deputy inspector general (prison), Tihar Jail, the university has found them “guilty” on four accounts. “Furnishing false certificates or false information in any manner to the university. Arousing communal, caste or regional feeling or creating disharmony among students,” are listed in the show-cause sent to Anirban as the counts on which he has been found “guilty”. “Causing or colluding in the unauthorised entry of any person into the campus or in the unauthorised occupation of any portion of the University premises, including hall of residences, by any person,” were further listed in the notice sent to Anirban.

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.

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.

“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 report also said that the group of outsiders had their heads and faces covered.

b’A protest in JNU against the arrest of the JNUSU president | Source: PTI’

A meeting of the university’s top brass, chaired by the Vice Chancellor, on Tuesday discussed the report following which the varsity issued show-cause notice to 21 students including Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid, 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.Mr Kumar, Mr Khalid and Mr Bhattacharya were arrested on charges of sedition in connection with the programme. Mr Kumar was released on bail from Tihar on March 3 while Mr Khalid and Mr Bhattacharya are still in judicial custody.

The university had on March 11 revoked the academic suspension of eight students including Mr Kumar 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.

b’Jawaharlal Nehru University students take part in solidarity march for Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya who are facing charges of sedition, in JNU campus / Source: PTI’

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 university, 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 Wednesday evening. 

(With inputs from PTI)

(Feature image source: PTI)