New Delhi: Under severe attack for handling of the Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) row, police was on Monday cautious in dealing with five students accused of sedition, a day after they resurfaced at the campus even as the varsity authorities were undecided on asking them to surrender before the law enforcing agency.
On their part, the students said they will not surrender as charges against them were false while Delhi Police Commissioner B. S. Bassi asked them to join investigations and prove their innocence.
A meeting of the top JNU officials, chaired by Vice Chancellor Jagdesh Kumar, deliberated on return of the five students to the campus after being in hiding for 10 days but could not take a decision whether police should be allowed to enter the campus to arrest them or the students should be asked to surrender.
The five students, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, JNUSU General Secretary Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Anant Prakash had gone missing from the campus since February 12 after JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on sedition charges for allegedly raising anti-India slogans in a controversial event at the campus.
The Vice Chancellor also met a delegation of over 300 teachers from the varsity, who raised four demands including removal of the officiating Registrar Bhupinder Zutshi, for allegedly mishandling the issue.
While the students did not meet the Vice Chancellor, JNUSU submitted a memorandum to him, appealing to him to raise the matter with police and "get" the sedition charges dropped against them.
"The police has not issued any summons to us. We were in hiding because of the fear of being mob-lynched considering the way Kanhaiya was attacked in court," Naga said.
Earlier, Bassi met Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and briefed him about the JNU row.
"I would say if the police are looking for them then they should join the police investigation. And if they are innocent, they should present evidence of their innocence," Bassi said.
Police teams were rushed to campus on Sunday night following information that the five students were spotted at the varsity premises.
However the cops kept waiting outside the main gate for the Vice Chancellor to give a go ahead for their entry into the campus.
Naga said it was already clear that the video based on which sedition charges were made against Kanhaiya and five others were fake and that they were never involved in anti-India activities.
"Why our name has been included in the FIR? Because we have been fighting against the government's policies. The message is clear that if we raise our voice against then, we will be branded anti-national," he said.
Another student Umar Khalid said over the last week he got to know things about himself which he never knew.
"People have told me things about me in the last week that I never myself knew. I have been to Pakistan twice even when I have no passport. They think I was planning to hold this event in 17-18 universities when I don't have much of an influence even inside JNU," he said addressing a gathering of over 500 students at varsity's administration block in the wee hours.
Meanwhile, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on Monday alleged that the five students, who have resurfaced now, were hiding in JNU professors' residences and demanded an inquiry into the matter by the university administration.
"We are very certain that these students are hiding in campus residences of professors. We demand an enquiry into the same and the teachers supporting these students should also be penalised by the university," Saurabh Kumar Sharma, Joint Secretary of JNUSU, and the lone ABVP member said during a press meet.
"Last night, they suddenly emerged on the campus and proudly addressed rallies. A huge gathering of students and teachers even lauded them.
We demand that the VC intervene in this regard and direct the five students to surrender before police. We want JNU administration, varsity security and police to devise a strategy on how that could be facilitated without disrupting the peace on campus," he said.
In different communications, foreign scholars have also asked the Vice Chancellor about reasons behind him "jumping to unwarranted conclusions" on the controversy.
The university authorities maintained that the concerns of the teachers are being looked into and the best possible course of action will be decided by the university soon.
"A meeting was called this morning of the top university officials to discuss the issue. The vice chancellor also met a delegation of 300 teachers who raised their demands and opinions in this regard.
No decision has been reached yet but all concerns are being looked into. We will come up with the best possible course of action soon, " a senior university official said.