BJP, Congress spar over JNU issue; journalists beaten in Delhi court (Roundup)

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) The BJP and the Congress on Monday attacked each other on the Jawaharlal Nehru University incidents even as a few journalists were beaten up by certain lawyers in Patiala House court complex here.

In a blog, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah attacked Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, accusing him of “supporting forces inimical to India’s interests”. The Congress hit back by invoking Mahatma Gandhi and his assassin Nathuram Godse.

Shah wondered if the Congress leader had “lent his voice to the separatists”.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said his party did not need lessons in patriotism from those “who are inheritors of the thought process of Nathuram Godse”.

The arrest of Jawaharlal University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges continued to evoke condemnation from the opposition parties. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said in Patna that the central government had “framed” him.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Prakash Karat visited the JNU campus on Monday and said the party did not accept the central government’s definition of nationalism.

The JNU has been on the boil over the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar on Friday. The controversy began when some JNU students organised a meet on February 9 to mark the anniversaries of executions of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front co-founder Maqbool Bhat. Anti-India slogans were reportedly raised at the gathering.

Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi said on Monday that Kanhaiya Kumar had joined the meeting on the campus where anti-national slogans were raised and he also raised slogans.

Kanhiaya Kumar, who belongs to the CPI-affiliated All India Students Federation (AISF), has denied the charge.

At least four of a group of journalists gathered at the Patiala House court on Monday afternoon to cover Kanhaiya Kumar’s court production were assaulted by a section of lawyers, witnesses said.

IANS reporter Amiya Kumar Kushwaha was slapped inside a courtroom while some other journalists were attacked on the court premises by lawyers shouting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ slogans.

Indian Express reporter Alok Singh told IANS that he and a group of journalists were standing outside the courtroom when some lawyers began thrashing JNU students and media persons present there, including Amit Pandey of IBN7 and Manu Shankar of Kairali TV.

Journalists also saw O.P. Sharma, one of the three BJP legislators in the Delhi assembly, allegedly chasing and hitting a JNU student outside the court.

Earlier, scuffles broke out as lawyers shouting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ ordered JNU students and journalists out of the courtroom as well as the court premises. No reasons were assigned.

Some JNU students said that lawyers shouting ‘Long Live India, Down with JNU’ physically forced them out of the court premises.

The violence took place despite a big police presence in the court complex in the heart of the capital.

Shah said Rahul Gandhi should apologise “to the nation for his support to forces inimical to India’s interests”.

“No citizen can accept that a terrorist is favoured and anti-India slogans raised at a prestigious university,” Shah said.

“But the kind of statements Rahul Gandhi and his party colleagues have delivered at the campus proves there is no place for national interest in their thinking.”

Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had succeeded in controlling “anti-national sentiments in Kashmir” but the Congress “is igniting unfortunate anti-national activities at the JNU”.

Shah said Rahul Gandhi was not able to “differentiate between anti-national and pro-national activity”.

Surjewala said anyone who had committed a wrong at JNU should be punished, but “it’s not true at all that anyone who raises voice against the Modi government is anti-national”.

“Those who killed the thought process of Mahatma Gandhi and those who are inheritors of the thought process of Nathuram Godse (who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi) need not teach the nation and the Congress new definition of patriotism,” Surjewala told reporters.

He said the Congress has a stellar record in living and dying for the integrity of this country, both prior to Independence and in the years after Independence.

The government, he said, “should abandon the path of suppressing voices opposed to it” and focus on governance.

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