About 22 Nepali students of Madhesi origin were detained on February 19 by Delhi Police stationed at Nepali Embassy in Delhi. The students were detained for waving black flags at visiting Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. “They had been detained in a dilapidated Delhi Police bus outside the Barakhamba road police station”, said Prashant Jha, associate editor for the Hindustan Times. The Station House Officer at the police station assured that the students would be released the same night after a quick medical clearance.
Contrary to the assurance, the Nepali students have been charged with Indian Penal Code 107 and 151 and have been sent to Tihar Jail until February 23, according to Sohan Sha – a Nepali student currently studying at JNU Delhi. Coincidentally, Feb 23 is just a day before PM Oli returns to Nepal.
The young Nepali students have been sent to Tihar Prisons, also called Tihar Jail and Tihar Ashram, which is a prison complex in India and the largest complex of prisons in South Asia.
Bikash Mishra is one of the Nepali students arrested and jailed who is currently studying at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi. This arrest comes after a notorious arrest of president of the JNUSU Kanhaiya Kumar by Indian PM Modi’s government just last week.
It seems harsh to charge young students with IPC 107 and 151 and send them to Tihar Jail for merely waving black flags at the visiting Nepali PM. Interestingly, the famed Indian social activist Anna Hazare was arrested by Indian government for merely fasting and charged him with the same IPC 107 and 151.
IPC 107 and 151 are part of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code. IPC 107 relates to the “Apprehension of breach of peace and tranquility of an area”. Similarly, IPC 151 relates to the “Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences”. A full description of these codes can be read online.
Several members of Nepalese civil society have written An Open Letter to Ministry of External Affairs, India to release the students.
Similarly, Dipendra Jha, a human rights lawyer and an Advocate at Supreme Court of Nepal also sent a letter addressed to the chairperson of National Human Rights Commission of India requesting the release of students.
— Adv. Dipendra Jha (@dipjha) February 20, 2016
The letter by Dip Jha is also sent to other human rights organizations such as National Human Rights Commission of Nepal, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Commission, and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights among others.
Advocate Jha argues that the arrest of the Nepali students by Delhi Police violates article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution that guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression.
Madhesis in Janakpur, affiliated to Madhesh Mass, held peaceful demonstrations outside Janaki Mandir and requested the release of the students with messages like “Free Our Brothers Detained in Delhi”.
— Riyaz Safi (@RiyazSaafi) February 20, 2016
According to a report from The State Daily, students and youths from Birgunj are planning to picket the Indian Embassy branch in Birgunj to seek the release of the imprisoned students. The Embassy of Nepal has not made any diplomatic effort yet to seek the release of Nepali students.