Returning to JNU campus on his release from jail three weeks after his arrest, the
university’s students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar on Friday night said they are seeking freedom within the country and not from India, as he hurled barbs at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Addressing students at the campus, 29-year-old Kumar, who has been slapped with sedition charge for allegedly raising anti-national slogans, said he had many differences with the
prime minister but he agreed with his tweet “Satyameva Jayate” which he had posted in praise of HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s fiery speech in Lok Sabha on the JNU row as it is in the
“I have many differences with the PM but I agree with his tweet Satyameva Jayate because these words are in our Constitution,” he said, as his passionate speech was punctuated by repeated cheers and raising of slogans.
“We are not seeking ‘azaadi'(freedom) from India. We want ‘azaadi’ within India,” he said.
Thanking all who stood by him while he was in Tihar jail here, Kumar said he believed in the Constitution and Judiciary of India.
Kumar said he had no ill feelings towards anyone and won’t indulge in “witch hunting” towards RSS’s student outfit ABVP.
“There is no animosity towards ABVP because we are democratic. We see them as our opposition,” he said.
“We truly believe in democracy and Constitution. We don’t look at the ABVP as an enemy, we look at them like the Opposition,” he said.
“Let me just say it is not easy to get admission in JNU neither it is easy to silence those in JNU,” he added. Kumar said his arrest is a planned attack on JNU.
“This attack is to delegitimize the UGC protests, to prevent justice to Rohith Vemula(the dalit scholar in Hyderabad who committed suicide,” he said.
Kumar said the struggle of peace loving and progressive sections of the society in the wake of the JNU row and Rohith Vemula suicide will be a long fight.
“Is seeking freedom from thorny issues confronting India a crime?,” he asked.
He also took a dig at Modi on his 2014 pre-poll promise to deposit Rs 15 lakh in everyone’s bank account from the black money which will be brought back by his government if he
comes to power.
During the course of his one hour, six minute-long speech, Kanhaiya also referred to Modi’s narration of an anecdote related to President Nikita Krushchev of erstwhile Soviet Union in the Lok Sabha.
“When he (Modi) was speaking I wanted to tell him to talk about Hitler as well. He should speak about Mussolini as well after all his guru Golwalker (second RSS chief) had met the
former… PM talks about Mann ki baat but does not listen,” he said to loud cheers.
“If you speak against the government, their cyber cell will frame you using doctored videos and count the number of condoms in your hostel,” he said. He also dared BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to a debate.
Kanhaiya also responded to arguments that invoke the martyrs of Indian Army in criticising the JNU students protesting against the government.
“I salute those soldiers dying at the borders. But what about farmers committing suicides in abject poverty? Those farmers are the fathers of majority of those soldiers. My father is a farmer, my brother is a soldier.
“And who is responsible for those wars where they make the supreme sacrifice? People making them fight are responsible.
Don’t create these false binaries,” he said.
In a speech, laced with humour, Kanhaiya referred to his conversations with police inside the prison and said how those personnel, “majority from poor families” seconded his arguments about the need for freedom for corruption and casteism.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who also found mention in his speech along with Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, tweeted, “What a brilliant speech by Kanhaiya…”.
#KanhaiyaKumar became the top trending topic on microblogging site Twitter following the speech. Many students were seen wiping tears during Kanhaiya’s address.
Kanhaiya and the students, who gathered in hundreds, also repeatedly raised the ‘Azaadi’ slogan, seeking freedom from casteism, patriarchy and injustice among others.
Former members of the ABVP’s JNU unit, who resigned recently, were also present among the audience.