Modi, opposition discuss JNU, FIR over attack on journalists (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.

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.

Among those who attended the meeting 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 the state machinery.

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

Tuesday’s developments came a day after a section of lawyers shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” slogans attacked journalists and JNU students in the Patiala House Court here a day earlier.

The incident took place shortly before Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested on charges of sedition, 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 Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri militant who was hanged 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 Patiala Court by some lawyers.

A large number of journalists earlier staged a protest march demanding action against the guilty lawyers.

They walked towards the Supreme Court, and submitted a memorandum to its registrar.

The journalists want the lawyers who thrashed reporters and students in the court to be arrested and action against police personnel who watched the violence but didn’t act.

“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.”

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

With the opposition slamming the government over the arrest of the JNU student leader, 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.

“The students did not raise just one anti-India slogan but many such slogans. The constitution guarantees freedom of speech, but such freedom does not mean people can support secession,” Akbar said.

Meanwhile, a protest was held outside the JNU here to demand the arrest of those who shouted anti-India slogans at the campus last week.

The protesters – said to be from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal – also demanded the shutdown of what they said was the “anti-national” administration of the university.

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