His college remembers a fiery speaker

Kanhaiya Kumar is no anti-national, emphasised students and teachers at the College of Commerce, Patna, where the arrested Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president studied for four years and did his graduation from before moving to Delhi. Nobody who knew Kanhaiya at the college could recall any anti-national remark made by him. His friends and teachers remember him as a popular college boy and a brilliant speaker.

By Roshan Kumar
  • Published 19.02.16
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College of Commerce. Picture by Ashok Sinha

Kanhaiya Kumar is no anti-national, emphasised students and teachers at the College of Commerce, Patna, where the arrested Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president studied for four years and did his graduation from before moving to Delhi. Nobody who knew Kanhaiya at the college could recall any anti-national remark made by him. His friends and teachers remember him as a popular college boy and a brilliant speaker.

After completing studies from RKC High School in Barauni, the industrial town in his native Begusarai district around 123km east of Patna, Kanhaiya took admission at the College of Commerce as an undergraduate student of geography.

He studied at the college from 2003 to 2007.

"He was a brilliant orator whose speeches favoured social change," recalled Srikant Singh, a professor of Hindi who was the convener of the college's debating society when Kanhaiya was a student. "He actively participated in debates and cultural activities. In speeches that he often made during cultural events, he never mentioned anything that amounted to being anti-national. Being inclined to leftist ideology since his childhood, he talked about bringing changes in the social system, abolishing caste system and capitalism, and bringing social and economic equality for all."

Geography teacher Mridula Singh said: "Like other AISF (All India Students Federation) members, his protest was for improving the academic condition within the college and we had not heard any statement from him which can be termed as anti-national."

His deep knowledge and ability to speak cogently for hours had earned Kanhaiya - who according to a friend of his lived in a private lodge in Rajendra Nagar - a reputation even beyond his college.

Sushil Kumar, a college-mate of Kanhaiya, said: "Thanks to his brilliant oratorical skills he won the gold medal twice at Tarang, the state-level cultural function, where he participated in the debate competition."

Kanhaiya's oratory served him well at JNU as well.

During the students' union election there last year, his rousing speech a night before the presidential election made AISF members sure he would be elected president.

The RSS student wing ABVP was out of the race the moment Kanhaiya was done with his first sentence, according to many of his friends.

Bishwajeet, an old friend of Kanhaiya who was among those attacked by lawyers at Patiala House court on Monday, told The Telegraph from New Delhi: "I have known Kanhaiya for years. He can never say anything that is anti-national. If the government has evidence of Kanhaiya giving anti-national statements, who is stopping the Narendra Modi government from releasing the videotapes?"