Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student and activist, Kanhaiya Kumar’s much-debated arrest has spilt beans all over the country. The vivacity with which students and academicians are protesting the arrest has risen a notch higher with solidarity letters flowing in from IIT professors and UK varsities. When videos (real or doctored) of the incident at Sabarmati Dhaba were released by media houses, audiences were quick to judge the character of Kanhaiya. However, such judgements were only mounted in connection with the incident. While some viewers are already determined about his anti-national motives, we at PaGaLGuY have attempted to draw a sketch of his character and life, individual of the incident.
Kanhaiya, hailing from an impoverished background in Begusarai, Bihar, struggled his way to JNU to pursue an MPhil in International Relations. His professors say, he was an academically strong student right through. Despite his participation in controversial political activism, he has never been responsible for instigating extremist sentiments on campus.
However, he does come with some strong democratic-communist ideologies by view of his family background. Kanhaiya’s father, now paralysed, was once a communist activist with the Communist Party of India (CPI). In fact, Kanhaiya himself is a member of AISF (All India Students Federation), the student wing of CPI, and is the President of the Students’ Union at JNU.
During presidential elections at JNU, Kanhaiya was contesting without much campaigning support from AISF. His accomplices and friends say that he won the elections by virtue of his character and thoughts. Since childhood he was brought up with deep political understanding and is even today considered to be very vocal about his political views.
As a member of two activist parties, Kanhaiya has led several protests in coalition with other alliance party members. He led the Delhi march for justice for Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the protest against UGC for scrapping their scholarship schemes. According to one of his accomplices, during the Delhi protest, Kanhaiya was detained by the police and then released by end of the day. In fact, according to his friends, he had been detained several times during protests, but was never charged for any crime or anti-national activities before.
Kanhaiya’s family in Begusarai is presently living on a monthly earning of approximately Rs 4000. His mother works at an Angadwadi in the village. Post the incident at JNU, the family has been allegedly receiving threats from some political parties.. Despite this, Kanhaiya’s father has supported his son in his activist ventures. In fact, students supporting the ongoing protests in JNU, say that, when the word attacks started mounting during the February 9 event, Kanhaiya wasn’t even present at the venue. He was called by one of the students present there, to come over and pacify the situation. Little did he think, that his attempt at retrieving peace would backfire in such an agonising way.
Some reports flooding through social media have suggested making him the face of modern India, while some others want him deported to Pakistan. However, understanding his character individual of the JNU incident, it probably would be fit enough to say he is just a regular student invested in fighting the malices of the nation.
The article has been written after speaking to Kanhaiya’s friends, accomplices and professors, about his life, family, and character.