Protests snowball over Indian university sedition row

Protests were held in several Indian cities Thursday over the arrest of a student at a leading Indian state-run university on charges of sedition.

Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the students union at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, was arrested last week for alleged participation in a campus event where slogans against India were shouted.

Cities across India saw protests by students both demanding Kumar be released and the right to freedom of speech be upheld, and that anyone raising anti-India slogans should be arrested and punished.

Over a thousand people, mostly students and teachers, marched from the Supreme Court to the Indian capital's designated protest spot, Jantar Mantar, shouting slogans in support of free speech and demanding Kanhaiya's release.

Many of them carried flowers as a symbol of peace and placards with slogans like "Free speech is under attack" and "We debate, we dissent, we argue."

Similar but smaller protests were reported from university campuses in Chennai, Guwahati and Kolkata.

In the southern city Bangalore over 200 members of the All India Students' Council (ABVP) held a march and waved India flags to demand the arrest of all those who raised anti-India slogans at the JNU event, NDTV news channel reported.

The ABVP is the students' wing of India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The ABVP held a similar rally in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency.

Kanhaiya Kumar is a member of a leftist union affiliated to the Communist Party of India.

Last update: Thu, 18/02/2016 - 14:57

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