New Delhi: Joining the chorus of protest in the JNU row, historians and writers, including Romila Thapar and Jeet Thayil, have condemned the slapping of a sedition case against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and said police action should not replace "dialogue" at any educational institution.
Over 9,000 artistes, writers and historians have signed a statement condemning the "arrest of Kanhaiyya Kumar on trumped up charges of sedition" and demanded his "immediate release". "Kanhaiya's public statements, which are widely available, clearly show that sedition is the last thing that you can charge him with.
"We also condemn the irresponsible sloganeering by some people at the fringes of a gathering on the JNU campus to mark the third anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru... the only way to counter such incidents, when they occur, is through a deepening of dialogue, not through police action," said the statement entitled 'Say No to Police Action in JNU and all Universities'.
Accusing the BJP government of having "unleashed an assault on higher education", the statement said "we demand an unconditional withdrawal of police personnel from campuses and reiterate our support and solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of JNU, and with students everywhere in India who are pursuing a courageous resistance".
Among those who have signed the statement are art curators Gayatri Sinha and Geeta Kapur, filmmakers Pallavi Paul, Sanjay Kak and Irfan Ghufran, among others.
The JNU students' union president was arrested last week in connection with a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy that was registered following an event on the varsity campus to protest against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-India slogans were allegedly raised.