JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar alleged that a man tried to strangle him inside the Jet Airways flight to Pune and blamed the Airways which offloaded both in Mumbai for the act.
Kumar’s friend Nishant who was travelling with him told The Wire: “The incident occurred before the plane took off. The man in the window seat was talking on the phone, we heard him say things like ‘I will take care of it as soon as I get a chance’” he said. “Then he suddenly got up, while still on the phone, and put one hand around Kanhaiya’s throat and started pressing. When Kanhaiya tried to remove the hand, the man dropped his phone and grabbed Kanhaiya’s throat with both hands. By then, those of us travelling with Kanhaiya realised what was happening and managed to pull him off. Then security came, along with the Jet Airways pilot, and insisted that all of us get off the plane as we were ‘security threats’.”
The accused was detained by the police at Mumbai airport. The alleged attacker has reportedly been identified by police as Manas Deka, who works for Tata Consultancy Services. Police later said the incident was a scuffle and not a bid strangulate Kumar.
Kanhaiya then tweeted: “Deka, works in TCS, a strong BJP supporter assaulted me inside the aircraft. Is assault the only tool you have, to fight dissent?” But Deka, speaking to TV channels refused the allegation and said he never voted for BJP. He said he only tripped on Kanhaiya Kumar and never tried to assault the student leader.
Kanhaiya Kumar is the prime target of BJP and other Hindutva organisations ever since he was charged under sedition by Delhi Police. Since Delhi Police failed to provide evidence in court, he was freed on bail for six months but almost every day there was an attack or an attempt on his life directly or indirectly by misguided individuals who believe that he was the one who raised anti-India slogans in JNU.
Here is a chronology of attacks on Kanhaiya Kumar, ever since he was arrested by Delhi Police on February 12, 2016:
Feb 17: Self-proclaimed nationalists dressed as lawyers attack and injure Kanhaiya Kumar in Patiala House courts despite Supreme Court’s directive to ensure JNUSU leader’s safety.
March 3: Kanhaiya Kumar returns to JNU after bail from Delhi High Court but faces threat inside the campus too.
March 4: Kuldeep Varshnay, a leader of the youth wing of BJP, offered Rs 5 lakh as a reward to anyone who cut off Kumar’s tongue.
March 5: Posters offering Rs 11 lakh reward to kill Kanhaiya Kumar surfaced in Delhi by the Purvanchal Sena, an organisation which claims to work for the people of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and its president Adarsh Sharma.
March 10: Kanhaiya Kumar was slapped, manhandled and abused on the JNU campus by a man, later identified as Vikas Chaudhary of Gaziabad who vowed to “teach Kanhaiya a lesson”.
March 15: Four men tried to attack Kanhaiya Kumar during a march in New Delhi of JNU students and staff led by him, demanding the release of other students who had been arrested and charged with sedition. One of the three climbed the truck on which Kumar was standing while addressing the gathering.
March 28: Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena’s national president, Amit Jani, in a post on Facebook threatened to storm the JNU campus and shoot down Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid.
March 31: Kanhaiya Kumar denied entry by Hyderabad Central University and on his return two bike-borne men with weapons tried to follow his car.
April 14: Bajrang Dal and ABVP members threw slippers and shoes at Kanhaiya Kumar in Nagpur, headquarters of RSS.
April 15: A pistol with a threatening letter was left behind on a DTC bus in Delhi that plies between ISBT and JNU campus.
April 24: In Jet Airways Flight from Delhi to Pune via Mumbai, a TCS employee identified as Manas Deka tried to strangulate me, alleged Kanhaiya Kumar and said Jet Airways offloaded both of them. Deka denied the allegation and said he just tripped on Kumar.