JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar accused police on Sunday of hiding the truth behind an alleged attack on him on a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Pune even as he pledged to carry forward his fight against the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
Kumar, who is facing sedition charges in connection with an event at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, alleged that a co-passenger tried to strangle him but the airline refused to act against the attacker.
Speaking in Pune, the 29-year-old Kumar said police were falsely claiming that the brawl between him and the co-passenger was over seat sharing.
Kanhaiya and the alleged attacker were subsequently offloaded from the plane on safety ground, forcing the student leader to take the road to Pune to attend an event.
“Such brawls don’t not happen in planes, they happen in trains and Mumbai locals. On whose behest the police are lying?” asked the JNU student union president.
Manas Jyoti Deka, a TCS employee, was detained and a non-cognisable offence filed at Mumbai airport over the assault, police said.
“My hand just happened to brush his neck as I was trying to balance myself on an aching leg. I do not know him personally though I have seen his pictures. This is being done for cheap publicity,” Deka told reporters in Mumbai, and added Kumar’s allegations were a cheap publicity stunt.
But Kumar said BJP members were attacking him because of his fight against the government. “I will take forward the fight against the government even if you beat me in plane or train.”
Police, however, contradicted the claim that Deka was a BJP activist.
Ram Shinde, Maharashtra minister of state (home), said Kumar was trying to malign the image of the BJP-led state government.
“He had been provided full security by the state government till the time he boarded the aircraft. Nobody can be given security once inside the plane. I, too, do not get security while I am flying,” Shinde said.
‘He’s not anti-national’
Uddhav Thackeray, the president of BJP ally Shiv Sena, said it was wrong to call Kumar “anti-national”.
“Who gave birth to Kanhaiya Kumar in the first place? The government should think over this. It is wrong to label him anti-national,” he said.
Kumar’s arrest in a sedition case over a February 9 event at JNU where alleged anti-India slogans were shouted has kicked up a political storm, with opposition parties and students criticising the central government for throttling freedom of speech.
‘Lab of communalism’
In Pune, Kumar described the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ruling BJP’s ideological parent, as the force behind the Modi government.
Kumar alleged the present dispensation had converted the country into a “laboratory of communalism and anti-Dalit” policies.