New Delhi: After a tense standoff between the police and the JNU administration, two accused students in a case of sedition - Umar Khalid and Anriban - have surrendered to the Delhi Police and have been taken to an undisclosed location.
Both students, suspected to be the main protagonists of the February 9 event where anti-India slogans werre allegedly raised, were escorted out of the campus by a private security agency of the JNU in a vehicle. The police said that the two have been taken in for questioning by the police and were not arrested. Their location, however, has not been disclosed by the police.
The Delhi High Court had earlier on Tuesday asked the two Jawaharlal Nehru University students charged with sedition over anti-India slogans to surrender before the police and follow due process of law, while agreeing to hear a plea to surrender at a place of their choice.
The two students – Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya – moved the High Court today expressing their willingness to surrender but sought the court's directions over police protection for them to avoid any untoward incident. The two students cited the recent manhandling of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, facing similar charges, while he was being produced in court.
Making it clear to the JNU students that it cannot allow them to surrender in the manner they wished as it would amount to going by their "whims and fancies", the judge expressed her disagreement with the plea of the students to allow them a safe passage, saying due procedure must be followed.
"There are procedures under the statute which have to be followed," Justice Pratibha Rani said while expressing her disagreement with the plea of JNU students — Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya — that they be given a safe passage and be allowed to choose the place of their surrender.
The judge said, "One should not exceed the scope of any petition and the prayer made in it" which included that the accused on surrender be sent to judicial custody by the high court itself instead of producing them before a trial court.
"The remand proceedings have to be done by a trial court and it (high court) cannot go by their (the two petitioners') whims and fancies.
"The moment the accused are arrested, he or she has to be produced within 24 hours before a trial court judge, who will decide the remand of the accused persons," the judge said.
When advocate Kamini Jaiswal, appearing for the students, argued for the need of safe passage to surrender, Justice Rani shot back "What do you mean, I should give you safe passage? Why this court (not trial court)? Let us go by the procedure."
The court, while hearing their plea, has asked the two students to submit before it in written the time and place they want to surrender. The matter has now been posted for hearing for tomorrow, when the court will hear the plea of Kanhaiya Kumar.
However, the judge called the students' lawyer and a senior official of the Delhi police to a chamber instead of the courtroom and asked them their plan for the surrender. The safe place suggested by the students' lawyer, however, was objected to by the police official present there. While the court did not reveal the place of surrender offered by the students, sources said the students wanted to surrender in JNU while the police wanted the students to surrender at a court or police station.
Umar Khalid, and four other students (all charged with sedition), surfaced at the JNU campus late night on Sunday after being absconding since the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition. It is alleged that the six students organised an event where anti-India slogans were purportedly raised. The event, held on February 9 in the university campus, commemorated the death of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
There has been a standoff between the JNU administration and the Delhi police over the arrest of the five students. While Delhi top cop B S Bassi has asked the students, also facing lookout notices by the police to surrender and join the probe, the university administration is not willing to allow the police inside the university campus.
Meanwhile, the hearing on the bail plea of Kanhaiya Kumar will also be taken up tomorrow, along with the plea by Umar and Anirban over their surrender.
The move comes on a day when thousands of university students from across the country converged at the capital's Jantar Mantar demanding justice for Rohith Vemula, a Dalit scholar from Hyderabad who committed suicide in the university hostel.