Brand-new DELHI: All five students, who were on the run from the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus since February 12 including Umar Khalid, are now back. Ashutosh, Anant Prakash Narayan, Rama Naga, Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid are now back on the campus and among the student protesters at the administrative block.
The five have actually been debarred by the university but they can still use their hostels. “We had taken the decision to flee because of the atmosphere that had been created,” said Ashutosh, former JNU students’ union president and present Delhi state secretary of All India Students’ Association.
“We were afraid there would certainly be mob attack and the police were going from room to room to check. The media trial — targetting us and branding us as ‘anti-nationals’ and terrorists — was additionally worrying us,” Ashustosh said. Narayan, a former JNUSU vice-president and Rama Naga, the present general secretary, are additionally from AISA. Bhattacharya and Khalid are former members of Democratic Students’ Union.
Ashutosh said the students were in Delhi itself and that the decision to return on Sunday evening had been taken individually and not collectively. “We didn’t do anything wrong but were been framed using doctored video. When we saw people rising up in our support, thousands of students marching for us, we got the strength to return,” he said.
Their return doesn’t change much where the university’s position is concerned. The five remain suspended. Ashutosh intends to join the andolan — the campaign to restore to JNU the space for “students to speak their mind, express opinions and dissent.” “That has actually been completely crushed. We are innocent students who wanted to express our views. The administration allowed the police in without resistance; the police have actually been working as RSS agents. We have actually to expand and step up our fight.”
The committee the university has actually established to inquire into the February 9 incident is a problem. “It has actually to be broadened. There are no women, no-one from the SC-ST or OBC castes. I am an OBC, Rama and Anant are both SC students. How can we depose before such a committee?”