Row over India student’s sedition arrest escalates

Agence France-Presse . New Delhi
A student makes her speech as Jawaharlal Nehru University students gather for a protest against the arrest of a student union leader in New Delhi, India, on Monday. — AP photo

A student makes her speech as Jawaharlal Nehru University students gather for a protest against the arrest of a student union leader in New Delhi, India, on Monday. — AP photo

A row over the arrest of an Indian student on a controversial sedition charge escalated Monday, with students refusing to attend classes and violent scenes at the Delhi court where he was due to appear.
Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on Friday for alleged seditious behaviour at a rally to mark the third anniversary of a Kashmiri separatist’s execution, sparking major protests at Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and other universities.
He was brought before a judge on Monday, but violent scuffles broke out in the courtroom where fellow students and journalists had gathered to witness his appearance.
An AFP reporter at the court said men wearing lawyers’ robes snatched reporters’ phones and notebooks and pushed them to the ground, accusing them of being ‘pro-Pakistan’ and ‘anti-Indian’.
Several journalists said they had been threatened and ordered to leave the court. Television footage showed unidentified men punching and shoving people outside the court building.
Kumar and other students are accused of voicing anti-India slogans at last Tuesday’s largely peaceful rally at JNU, charges they deny.
His arrest has reignited a row over freedom of expression in India, where some rights campaigners say the British-era sedition law is being misused to clamp down on dissent.
Students have since staged protests at campuses around the country in support of Kumar, accusing India’s Hindu nationalist government of overreacting.

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