Former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Kanhaiya Kumar on Tuesday filed his nomination to contest the Lok Sabha election from Bihar’s Begusarai seat. Kanhaiya Kumar is contesting the election as a candidate of the Communist Party of India (CPI).
Kanhaiya Kumar became an overnight symbol of JNU students’ freedom of speech movement after he was arrested over an event he organised to mark the hanging of 2001 Indian Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Kanhaiya Kumar was accused of chanting anti-India slogans at the event, which was organised on the JNU campus in 2016.
Over two years later, Kanhaiya Kumar, now a PhD from JNU, joined the Communist Party of India and has been fielded against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh from Begusarai.
WHO IS KANHAIYA KUMAR?
Born in 1987 in Begusarai’s Bihat village, Kanhaiya Kumar studied till Class 6 at Madhya Vidyalaya in Bihar’s Masnadpur village. He later joined RKC High School in Barauni town. During his school days, Kanhaiya Kumar took part in several plays and activities. After completing Class 12, Kanhaiya joined the Ram Ratan Singh College in Mokama.
He completed his MA in sociology from Nalanda Open University and moved to Delhi to pursue PhD in African studies at the School of International Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University.
In February 2019, Kanhaiya Kumar submitted his PhD thesis titled ‘The Process of De-colonisation and Social Transformation in South Africa, 1994-2015’.
Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested in 2016 on the charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy following complaints of BJP members and ABVP – the students’organisation of the BJP.
His arrest soon snowballed into a major political controversy. The students of JNU also went on a strike, literally paralysing the university. When Kanhaiya Kumar was brought to the Patiala House court in Delhi, he was assaulted by a group of lawyers. JNU students, some teachers and even journalists were also attacked by the lawyers.
Later, a six-member bench of the Supreme Court said that the policemen present at the Court were responsible for the security lapses.
Kanhaiya, who was released after a month on an interim bail, denied all the charges, saying that he did not raise any slogan against the integrity of the country. Justice Pratibha Rani also observed that there was no evidence of Kanhaiya Kumar raising any anti-national slogans at the event.
At an interview, Kanhaiya Kumar said that he disassociate himself from any slogan which were shouted at the event. “I have full faith in the Constitution and I always said that Kashmir is an integral part of India.”
A day after his release from jail, he gave a speech to a packed auditorium in the JNU campus and said that he demands freedom not from India but within India. He also appealed to his fellow students to get the country rid of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
“I am a student and not a politician. The citizens of this country have not voted for me, it is the students of JNU who have voted for me. I am a student leader of this university and will always fight for students’ rights,” he said when asked about his political plans.
This led to a leader of Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha or BJYM, announcing Rs 5 lakh prize money for cutting off the tongue of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar. Hours later, he was expelled from the party for six years.
The Delhi Police sought information from JNU authorities about Kanhaiya’s movements outside the campus and nature of his visits so that he can be provided foolproof security.
A few days later, Kanhaiya Kumar, on International Women’s Day, found himself in a spot over his “some Indian Army personnel rape women in Jammu and Kashmir”. In a video, Kanhaiya was heard saying that “while we have a lot of respect for the Indian Army soldiers, we will talk about the fact that some soldiers rape women in Kashmir”.’
Following the JNU sedition row, Kanhaiya Kumar also received death threats. A Meerut-based Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena (UPNS) leader, Amit Jani, threatened to kill Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid. He also claimed that 10 people from his party are waiting for the right time.
Despite facing death threats for over last two years, Kanhaiya Kumar, today (April 9), filed his candidature from Begusarai Lok Sabha constituency. Hundreds of people, mostly youths, joined the CPI candidate during a two-kilometer march on foot, cycle and two-wheelers waving red flags in the town.