Left leader Kanhaiya Kumar spoke to NDTV on Friday night, shortly after Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party okayed his prosecution in a long-pending sedition case, and alleged he was being targeted ahead of Assembly polls in Bihar this year. Kanhaiya Kumar also pointed to other cases – like Davinder Singh, the senior Jammu and Kashmir cop caught last month while travelling to Delhi with three Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists – and accused the government of misusing the sedition law for political gains
“Look at the timing. Chargesheet was filed before Lok Sabha elections (he contested from Bihar’s Begusarai seat). Now I am preparing for Bihar (Assembly polls later this year). The country should know how sedition laws are misused for political benefit. There was no sedition case against Davinder Singh…” the Communist Party of India (CPI) leader said, adding, “I did not raise anti-national slogans”.
Mr Kumar also refused to question why the AAP had permitted his prosecution after sitting on an application by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police for over a year; the application was filed on January 19, 2019, after a Delhi court rejected a chargesheet on procedural grounds.
“I don’t want to comment on why AAP permitted prosecution. All I want is speedy trial, by a fast-track court, and a decision on this matter to come from the courts… and not from a trial sitting in a TV studio,” Mr Kumar added, appealing to officials to “ensure justice by following due process without succumbing to political pressure”. He also said he had full faith in the judicial system.
Mr Kumar had tweeted after sanction was given, saying “I thank you” to the Delhi government.
AAP MLA and spokesperson Raghav Chadha also spoke to NDTV, defending his party’s decision on this matter. He called it “a procedural matter” and said the Delhi government would not, “as a matter of principle”, intervene in any such case.
Mr Chadha played down a 2016 tweet by Chief Minister Kejriwal, in which the AAP chief had enthusiastically praised Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech.
Heard Kanhaiya’s speech many times. Amazing clarity of thought expressed wonderfully.He said wat most people have been feeling.God bless him
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 4, 2016
The AAP MLA told NDTV that there was a difference between praising the oratorical skills of an individual and policy matters and decisions taken by the government, pointing out that the AAP had not stood in the way of its own MLAs and leaders being prosecuted during its time in power.
However, Mr Chadha’s statement was contested by another former JNU student in Umar Khalid, who is also named in the chargesheet along with Kanhaiya Kumar.
“I don’t think this is merely procedural… a sedition case implies sanction from the government and the standing counsel of the Delhi government (Rahul Mehra) has categorically stated that sanction shouldn’t be given. So what changed?” Mr Khalid asked.
Like Mr Kumar, Umar Khalid also said he was untroubled by the matter going to court, saying he was confident justice would be done and that “we have lived under the shadow of these charges for many years”.
The former Jawaharlal Nehru University students are accused of leading a rally in February 2016, on the anniversary of the hanging of Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru, during which anti-national slogans were allegedly chanted.