The Delhi High Court yesterday postponed to February 29 the bail plea hearing of Jawaharlal Nahru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested on sedition charges.
The court decision came after Delhi police said they will seek Kumar’s fresh remand to “unearth any larger conspiracy”.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the police, told Justice Pratibha Rani that they were moving a remand application to seek Kumar’s police custody for the third time, to confront him with fellow students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya who surrendered on Tuesday night.
Three other students - Ashutosh Kumar, Rama Naga and Anant Prakash Narayan - facing the same charges, are yet to surrender.
Mehta said the police remand of Kumar, who is in judicial custody until March 2, is required to confront him with Khalid and Bhattacharya and “unearth any larger conspiracy”.
“Since two JNU students surrendered last night, we need to confront them with Kanhaiya,” Mehta said.
Allowing police to move the remand application, Justice Pratibha Rani said: “We have to ensure that they don’t suffer any scratch, that’s my only concern.”
The police said if Kumar was released on bail, “he may create law and order problems by conducting meetings in his support, hampering arrest of other accused people.”
Kumar “did not co-operate at all during the course of the interrogation”, they said.
They also said the police were looking into the “linkage between Kanhaiya and some foreign elements with their mouths covered” who were present during the February 9 event at the university.
Kumar was arrested and charged with sedition on February 12 after the event held on the university campus against the execution of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. He allegedly shouted anti-India slogans at the event.
Khalid and Bhattacharya, along with three others, went into hiding on February 12 when Kumar was arrested. They surrendered on Tuesday night.
The police said Kumar, if released on bail, “may influence witnesses and also hamper the investigation”.
“It would send a wrong signal to the students’ community across the country that such anti-India activities can be conducted with immunity.”
“He (Kumar) may become the rallying point to encourage such anti-India movements which would not only spread disaffection but would also be contemptuous since the conviction recorded by the Supreme Court is being termed judicial killing,” the report said.
The police further said: “It is an open secret that the aforesaid conduct of holding an event on February 9 has not only ramifications within India, it has an international impact as well.”
During the hearing, Justice Pratibha Rani made it clear that the police have the statutory right to seek Kumar’s remand till February 27.
Meanwhile, Khalid and Bhattacharya who were grilled for five hours in police custody denied raising “anti-national” slogans, a police source said.
According to sources, the students told the police that the event was held without permission and pro-separatists slogans may have been raised at the gathering.
“Ashutosh managed the poster and banners of the programme while a person Riyaz decided the slogans to be raised at the event. A girl volunteer managed social media and networking for the event,” an official who knew about the interrogation said.
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