New Delhi: The CPI-M on Monday demanded the withdrawal of sedition cases registered against its general secretary Sitaram Yechury and other opposition leaders in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) row and pressed for scrapping the sedition clause in the Indian Penal Code.
“The Politburo of the Communist Party of India-Marxist condemns the registering of a case of sedition against Sitaram Yechury and other leaders of opposition parties, in Hyderabad,” the party said in a statement.
The CPI-M alleged that the FIR has been lodged by police “ostensibly because these leaders had extended support to the students of JNU who are protesting against the arrest (in a) sedition case of leaders of the students union and other student organisations”.
“The manner in which the sedition clause is being used in this case underlines the necessity to scrap the sedition clause 124A in the Indian Penal Code. The CPI-M demands the withdrawal of the cases against the opposition leaders and all others named in the FIR,” the statement said.
The party warned the central government “to desist from actions which suppress democratic rights and freedoms in the country by branding dissent and opposition as “anti-national”.
On Sunday, a FIR charging Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and others with sedition was registered at a police station in Hyderabad.
On the direction of a city court, the Saroornagar police station registered the FIR against JNU Students Union president Kanahiya Kumar and the leaders of the Congress, CPI-M and AAP.
Communist Party of India leader D. Raja, Congress leaders Ajay Maken and Anand Sharma, and Janata Dal-United leader K.C. Tyagi have also been named in the FIR.
Police took the action after a metropolitan magistrate issued the orders on a petition filed by a lawyer requesting the court to forward his complaint to the police station.
Petitioner Janardhan Goud told the court that though he approached the police station on February 14 to register the case, police declined to do so.
The lawyer alleged that Gandhi and the other leaders committed sedition by visiting the JNU to support the students who he said had raised ‘anti-India’ slogans.
Police said they will seek legal opinion before taking further action in the case.