02/18/2016, 11.13
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Thousands of students protest against Modi to defend free speech

by Nirmala Carvalho

The debate in the country is focused on case of Kanhaiya Kumar, student leader arrested for "sedition". He stands charged with having led a rally with anti-nationalist overtones. Police accused of illegality and of manipulating evidence, helpless in the face of nationalist fanatics violence against students. Social leaders: "Finally there is a confrontation. On the one hand the Modi fascists, on the other democracy ".

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Thousands of Indian students are expected at a protest march to be held in the next few hours in the country's capital. For days students have been mobilizing throughout the territory against the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, a student leader of the Union of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), one of the most prestigious universities of India considered the equivalent of the US Berkeley. The arrest of the young man, accused of "sedition," has sparked one of the most heated debates of recent times, which has divided on the one hand those who support the right to freedom of expression, and on the other supporters of the nationalist policies of Prime Minister Modi.

Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (Pvchr), told AsiaNews: "On the one hand, India is witnessing the emergence of a police state and a strengthening of the fascist forces. On the other, the country is on the brink of true democracy ".

For days, debate in the country has almost exclusively focused on student protests. Since the first event in Delhi, about 40 universities have joined across the country, with several professors taking to the streets next to their pupils.

All are opposed to the accusations made against Kumara, and believe that he is being held illegally. The young man was stopped because he had organized a demonstration against the killing of Mohammed Afzal Guru, who was hanged in 2013 for taking part in an attack on the Indian Parliament made in 2001 by Kashmiri separatists, which left 14 victims. Guru has always maintained his innocence.
News of Kumar’s arrest appeared immediately complicated because the procession of students was accused of having chanted "anti-nationalist” slogans.  In many quarters, however, it was argued that the chants were organized by extremist factions of the police.

The police themselves have come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, charged with standing idly by in the face of violence unleashed yesterday by some fanatic lawyers dressed with the robes against Kumar and his supporters, as he was brought before the Court for his first hearing. Not only that, a journalist in the violence was also wounded, an event that smacks of "aggression against the freedom of press and expression".

Raghuvanshi said: "The Delhi police have handled the investigation and the case. Despite all the media continuously showing images of students and journalists beaten by police, the police have opened an investigation against persons unknown. This is really a shame. "

Prakash Karat, leader of the Communist Party, has called on "the government to immediately overturn the charges of sedition. The democratic spirit of our education system is at stake because the government is determined to impose its sectarian and ideological values ​​in all educational institutions of the country. "

Raghuvanshi concludes: "The fascist forces are surfacing at all levels of society. They have always existed, but thanks to this government they are emerging from hibernation. The good news is that the secular liberal Hindus are fighting the fascist forces".

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