Students came out in large numbers across the country on Wednesday to protest Sunday’s violence against students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) while Opposition parties, including the Congress, announced they would soon meet to decide their future course of action.
In view of the continuing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend the inaugural function of the third Khelo India event to be held in Guwahati from January 10 to 22.
In a separate development, the Centre moved the Supreme Court on the day, seeking transfer of petitions challenging constitutional validity of the CAA pending before different high courts to the top court.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde posted the matter for January 10. The Bench, also comprising justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, said, “We are of the prima facie view that high courts should hear petitions challenging CAA and in case there is a conflict then we may look into it”.
Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, appearing for the Centre, said there would be a problem as different high courts may take conflicting views and lawyers will move to different states to attend proceedings. The top court said lawyers moving to different states to attend hearings was not its priority.
The Congress Working Committee will meet on Saturday to “discuss the current political environment”. A meeting of opposition parties is likely on Monday. The meetings will also discuss the crisis in West Asia.
Congress chief ministers Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan and Amarinder Singh of Punjab appealed to the Centre on Wednesday to prepare a plan to protect Indians working in West Asia in the wake of escalating tensions between Iran and the US.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will visit Varanasi, Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, to meet students at the Banaras Hindu University on Friday.
JNU attack investigation
Union minister Prakash Javadekar expressed confidence that the ongoing police probe will “unmask” the accused and asserted that violence has no place in a “mature democracy” like India.
“We are a mature democracy and everybody has the right to express their opinion. Violence has no place, especially in universities, where people go to study,” Javadekar said.
The minister said some unions in JNU had earlier decided to prevent students from registering in semesters. “We should not forget that this is an important issue. Stopping students from semester admission is anti-education,” he said.
Delhi Police sources said no fresh cases were registered on Wednesday apart from the three already registered in connection with the JNU incident. While no arrests have been made so far, they said police has leads for the identification of the masked persons who indulged in violence in JNU.
The Union Human Resource Development Ministry on Wednesday asked JNU vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar to communicate more with students, take faculty into confidence and facilitate the semester registration process, days after violence on the campus. Officials met Kumar and told him normalcy should be restored at the earliest, a senior ministry official said.
Kumar said the administration had not suggested temporarily shutting down JNU and efforts were being made to restore normalcy. There have been demands that he be sacked or resign in the wake of the attack.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar will flag off and participate in the yatra being organised by the Rashtra Manch of former union minister Yashwant Sinha against the CAA, NRC and NPR. The “Gandhi Shanti Yatra” will commence from the Gateway of India in south Mumbai on Thursday and culminate at the Raj Ghat in Delhi on January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.