Former Delhi University lecturer Geelani arrested on ‘sedition charges’

NEW DELHI: Former Delhi University lecturer SAR Geelani was arrested on Tuesday allegedly on sedition and other charges in connection with an event in which anti-India slogans were raised, police said.

“Geelani was arrested around 3am at the Parliament Street police station under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly),” DCP (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal said, according to Hindustan Times.

Geelani was called to the police station last night where he was detained and questioned for several hours, and later arrested. After his arrest, he was taken to RML Hospital for a medical examination, he said.

Geelani arrest comes amid the raging row over the arrest of JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar over sedition charges in connection with an event on the varsity’s campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on February 9.

At a Press Club event on February 10, in which Geelani was present on the dais along with three other speakers, a group allegedly had shouted slogans hailing Afzal Guru. Taking suo motu cognisance of the matter, the police registered a case against Geelani and other unnamed persons on February 12.

The police had claimed to have registered the FIR taking suo motu cognisance of media clips of the incident. The police also claimed that Geelani was booked as he is presumed to be the “main organiser” of the event.

“Request for booking a hall at the Press Club was done through Geelani’s e-mail and the nature of the event was proposed to be a public meeting, which did not turn out to be so,” a senior official had said.

Geelani was arrested in connection with the 2001 Parliament attack case but acquitted for “need of evidence” by the Delhi high court in October 2003, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in August 2005.

Meanwhile, outrage over the arrest of the left-wing student leader, who had organised a rally to mark the anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru, led to demonstrations in at least 18 universities.

In the largest protest, thousands of students and academics at New Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) boycotted classes and erected barricades for a fourth day in an escalating conflict with the authorities.

“The government does not want students to have a say,” said Rahila Parween, vice-president of the Delhi unit of the All India Students’ Federation, a left-wing student union. “It wants to dictate what students think, understand and say.”

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