Kashmir is integral part of India: Kanhaiya

New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Kashmir is an integral part of India and Indians can discuss the issues pertaining to Kashmiris at any forum, JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar said on Friday.

Speaking at the India Today conclave, he said: “There is no doubt that Kashmir is an integral part of India. And since Kashmiris are Indians, we can always discuss their issues.”

Kanhaiya Kumar, who was charged with sedition, denied supporting Kashmiri militant Afzal Guru, who was hanged for his role in the terror attack on the Indian parliament, but said he opposed capital punishment.

“Our protest (on February 9) was against capital punishment, not in support of Afzal,” he said, adding that even if an ABVP activist was given capital punishment, he would oppose it.

“The JNU culture promotes debate and discussion. It is not our culture to stop people from speaking or putting forth their point of view, even if we do not agree with it,” he added.

Asked why he did not stop people from raising anti-India slogans at the JNU campus on February 9, he said neither he or nor his Communist Party of India-Affiliated All India Students Federation (AISF) supported anti-India slogans or Kashmir’s secession.

The JNUSU president also welcomed the Patiala House Court’s order granting bail to his colleagues Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, saying: “All parties and people supporting democracy must come forward to demand abolishing the sedition law.”

“It will be a long battle. We have been given bail. We will go on with our struggle to ensure that the sedition law is scrapped.

“I have been to jail. I know what it feels to be there. I am glad our comrades will be back but the struggle will continue,” he said.

JNUSU vice president Sheila Rashid also echoed the similar sentiments.

“I have grown up seeing a very violent image of India in the childhood. But in JNU I was never reminded about my identity. I am a Kashmiri Muslim and got elected here as people in JNU saw the political activist in me they were never biased against my identity,” Rashid said insisting

the people “who have always seen elections being boycotted became a part of elections in JNU as it has given a space of dissent maintaining the values of a democratic institution”.

“We are free to express ourselves in JNU. It is here where people like me coming from a marginal background can pursue their studies without reminding about their identity constantly,” she added.

However, ABVP leader Saket Bahuguna attacked them.

“It is people like you have been described as a disease an infection in the society by the Delhi High Court in its judgement. Its a shame on people like you,” ABVP media convener Saket Bahuguna said pointing towards Kanhaiya Kumar and Shiela Rashid

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