Modi, opposition discuss JNU, FIR over attack on journalists (Intro Roundup)

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) The sedition case filed against a JNU student leader came up for discussion as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met opposition leaders here on Tuesday even as an FIR was filed over Monday’s attack on journalists and students by a group of lawyers and the apex court moved over it.

Opposition leaders raised the issue of sedition charge slapped against Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar when they met at Modi’s office.

The prime minister called the meeting to seek the cooperation of opposition parties for a smooth functioning of parliament’s budget session starting on February 23. This was first such meeting called by the prime minister.

Among those who attended were Anand Sharma and Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, Mohammed Salim of the Communist Party of India-Marxist and Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal meanwhile denounced attempts to dub the JNU as “a terrorist centre” and urged Modi “not to convert nationalism into a device for creating fear psychosis” by using state machinery.

He also sought action against “lumpen and anarchist elements” like Bharatiya Janata Party legislator O.P. Sharma, who was filmed thrashing a Communist Party of India activist outside a court here on Monday.

A section of lawyers shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” slogans attacked journalists and JNU students in the Patiala House Court here on Monday. The incident took place shortly before Kanhaiya Kumar was to be presented before a magistrate.

Kumar has denied allegations that he shouted “anti-India slogans” at a meeting at the JNU campus on February 9 during a meeting to mark the hanging of Kashmiri militant Afzal Guru for the 2001 terror attack on Indian parliament.

Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi said they had registered a First Information Report over the attack on journalists at the court.

“We are looking into the matter,” Bassi said at a function to mark the 69th Raising Day of Delhi Police. “We are taking all steps to identify the people and action will be taken as per law.”

Asked why police personnel didn’t come to the rescue of journalists, he said: “If it is proved police didn’t perform their duty or showed laxity, appropriate action will be taken against them as well.”

A large number of journalists earlier staged a protest march demanding action against the guilty lawyers, walking towards the Supreme Court, and submitting a memorandum to its registrar. A delegation of senior journalists has sought appointment with Chief Justice T.S. Thakur to personally apprise him of the issue.

At least four journalists, including Amiya Kumar Kushwaha from IANS, were attacked on Monday without any provocation.

The Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday a petition by a JNU alumnus seeking safe and conducive atmosphere in the Patiala House court complex in the wake of Monday’s incident.

The Congress meanwhile alleged that the “barbaric and inhuman attack” on journalists, students and teachers at the vourt was carried out by “BJP goons” and police remained “a mute spectator”.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the BJP was “muzzling” the voice of India’s youth, students, teachers, journalists, opposition and every individual or organisation that questions “subjugation of disagreement or paralysis of governance”.

Countering the allegations, the BJP said the government was not fighting students but “anti-national” forces.

“The fight is not between the government and students but between the nation and anti-national forces,” BJP spokesman M.J. Akbar said, claiming that students did not raise just one anti-India slogan but many such slogans.

A protest was also held outside JNU to demand the arrest of those who shouted anti-India slogans there.

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