The man is Kanhaiya Kumar, a 28-year-old PhD student at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, who is loved and loathed in equal measure. The self-confessed Marxist first grabbed headlines in February after he was arrested and charged with sedition for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans at a campus meeting. The slogan in question? “Azadi”, or “freedom” in Hindi.
But why is the word freedom so contentious in India?
Originally a slogan raised by India’s freedom fighters against the British pre-1947, the word has now become inextricably linked to the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir where the slogan is regularly used to demand independence from India.