New Delhi: JNU has failed to distinguish between nationalists and anti-nationals while deciding the punishment to students in connection with the controversial 9 February event and has “criminalised” patriotism, members of ABVP alleged on Wednesday.

The university officials, however, maintained that decision has been made after thorough investigation by a five-member probe panel and the punishments have been announced in accordance with the varsity norms.

JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar. AFP

JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar. AFP

Five members of ABVP which is BJP’s student wing, are on hunger strike since Tuesday demanding withdrawal of punishment orders for Saurabh Sharma, who is the lone ABVP member in JNU students union.

Sharma, JNUSU Joint Secretary, was the main complainant of the event on campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

Following his complaint on day of the event, JNU administration had withdrawn the permission for the programme but the organisers had gone ahead with it.

However, a high-level committee of the university probing the issue has found Sharma “guilty” of blocking the traffic and he has been imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000.

“JNU administration has failed to distinguish between the acts of nationalist and those of anti-Indians. It has infact equated them. We believe that the punishment awarded to Saurabh Sharma for stopping the anti-national procession is a sad incident of criminalising patriotism and nation-service,” ABVP said in a statement.

“He was acting as a responsible citizen of India and it was his fundamental duty as per the Constitution to uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India. We want his punishment to be revoked as this shall set a precedent whereby the every nationalist student shall fear to oppose the anti-national events in the campus,” it added.

Responding to the allegations a senior university official said, “the sequence of events has been thoroughly probed by the five-member probe committee and the decision has been taken in accordance with university norms.”

Terming the decision of the enquiry committee an act of “cowardice, compromise and collusion”, ABVP has sought an assurance from the administration that “such anti-national and seditious event shall not take in future”.

“The arbitrariness of punishment reveals the buckling of the JNU administration under pressure from students union and teachers association. One of the participants of the event is a daughter of a politician and has not been given any punishment. Some of them are the habitual offenders and awarding feather-like punishment is making heroes out of demons,” ABVP said.

JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattachayra were arrested on the charge of sedition in February in connection with the controversial event and are out on bail.

While Kanhaiya has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 10,000 on grounds of “indiscipline and misconduct”, Umar, Anirban and Kashmiri student Mujeeb Gatoo have been rusticated for varied durations.

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JNU ‘criminalising patriotism,’ claims ABVP, seeks withdrawal of punishment to its leader