Two Indian university students arrested for sedition | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 24.02.2016
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Two Indian university students arrested for sedition

Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, students of New Delhi's JNU, were taken into police custody. The two were arrested for sedition following allegedly anti-national protests over a week ago.

Umar Khalid (pictured above, right) and Anirban Bhattacharya (pictured above, left) emerged from hiding and surrendered to the police in New Delhi, according to New Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat. The two students gave themselves up after a local court refused to grant them protection from arrest over an alleged anti-India rally at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on February 9.

Officials did not enter the university campus to arrest the students but instead waited for them to surrender to authorities. Police are still looking for three other students who have been missing for more than a week and are believed to be in hiding.

Khalid and Bhattacharya were arrested after the university's student union leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, was taken into police custody for his participation at a rally focusing on a Kashmiri separatist on February 9.

Indien Proteste JNU Campus Neu Delhi Kanhaiya Kumar Student

Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested nearly ten days ago

The rally was organized on the anniversary of the death of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist involved in terrorist attacks on the Indian parliament in 2001. Guru was hanged in 2013, but rights groups objected to the situation in which his sentence was carried out.

Students participating at the rally earlier this month were accused of shouting slogans calling for the destruction of India and for the independence of Kashmir - a sensitive issue between India and Pakistan.

Kumar's arrest provoked thousands of students and teachers to take to the streets and accuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of implementing the colonialist sedition law to crack down on freedom of expression. If found guilty, offenders can be sentenced to prison for life for sedition.

Opposition leaders have accused the prime minister and his nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of stifling dissent and inciting communal tensions.

The issue also prompted a discussion on media and its role in fanning the protest and pro-nationalist sentiments. Indian journalist Vishwadeepak resigned, saying he was disappointed at how Indian media presented the story.

mg/sms (AP, AFP)