Kanhaiya
Kanhaiya Kumar accuses co-passenger of attempting to strangulate him Picture: JNU students leader Kanhaiya Kumar addresses a during a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, on March 15, 2016.IANS

Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India and for that reason we need to discuss the issues of Indian citizens living in the state, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar said Friday.

Kumar made the statement at the India Today Conclave 2016, where he also said that he does not support Afzal Guru, the Kashmiri who was hanged in 2013 in connection with the 2001 Parliament attack, but was against capital punishment, India Today reported.

"There is no doubt that Kashmir is an integral part of India. And since Kashmiris are Indians, we can always discuss their issues," Kumar said.

"Our protest (on February 9) was against capital punishment, not in support of Afzal. The JNU culture promotes debate and discussion. It is not our culture to stop people from speaking or putting forth their point of view, even if we do not agree with it," he added.

At the conclave, Kanhaiya was asked about the allegations that he had shouted slogans against the Indian Army at the campus. The question was answered by JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid, who is from Kashmir.

"It pains me to say that but it is a fact that there are allegations against the Indian Army of raping women in Kashmir. But we are not able to do much about them because of the impunity that Armed Forces Special Powers Act provides to the soldiers," Rashid said.

The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act was passed in 1990 and has been in force in the state since then.

"For a Kashmiri who boycott elections in the Valley to fight an election in JNU was a big leap of faith, and I am glad I made it," she added.

Kanhaiya vows to wage battle to scrap sedition law, against 'dictatorship'

Kumar was arrested on charges of sedition Feb. 12 and granted interim bail March 2. JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, who were also arrested on sedition charges and sent to judicial custody, were released Friday on six-month interim bail.

After Khalid and Bhattacharya were granted bail, Kumar vowed to pursue a battle to scrap British-era sedition law. "Those who are supporting democracy should come together. It will be a long battle. We have been given the bail. We will go on with our struggle to ensure that the sedition law is scrapped," Press Trust of India quoted Kumar as saying.

Later, he, according to PTI, also took a dig at the NDA government for using "black law like sedition against people of the country." He took another vow to wage "direct fight" against "dictatorship."

"You may not agree with my politics. It is not about JNU only. The universities are being attacked across the country. Now our fight is direct against dictatorship. All democratic people will have to come together. This unity is required in the country," he said at conclave.

"The whole episode has been portrayed as a case of national versus anti-national. The job of a patriot is not to use a black law like sedition against people of the country, against youngsters and students. You are behaving with them in a way as if you have become the British and we are the soldiers of Bhagat Singh. If you don't hesitate to use a black law like sedition, then we don't have any problem in becoming the sepoys of Bhagat Singh," he added.

'Anupam Kher takes dig at Kanhaiya Kumar'

Earlier Friday, at the screening of his film 'Buddha in a traffic jam' at JNU campus, actor Anupam Kher asked why people out on bail are celebrated as hero, without mentioning any names, according to Zee News.

"He is out on bail, he hasn't come back with a medal from Olympics that he should be accorded such huge welcome. One who talks ill of the country, how can he be celebrated as hero? Has he got an Olympic medal? He is out on bail. He is not Sachin, Saina or Hanumanathappa," Kher said.

"I also heard someone saying that he wants freedom in India and not from India. If the country is your home than how is freedom in or from is different," he said. Kumar, after his release from jail, had addressed the students of JNU and said they demand freedom from poverty, not India.

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