NEW DELHI — An Indian court said a university student leader can be freed on bail more than two weeks after he was detained for alleged sedition in a case that has sparked nationwide protests and accusations of government intolerance of dissent.
Hundreds of students began clapping and chanting “Freedom!” at a rally in central New Delhi, after the city’s High Court issued the ruling Wednesday evening.
It said Kanhaiya Kumar could be released if he pays about $148 bail, refrains from political activity and is supervised by a faculty member at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Justice Pratibha Rani also asked that Kumar, as the university’s student union president, “make all efforts within his power to control anti-national activities” on campus.
Kumar was expected to leave jail custody Thursday after the court’s order
has been processed, but will have to cooperate with police who are still investigating the case.
Since his Feb. 12 arrest for participating in events at which anti-India slogans were allegedly shouted, students have rallied across the country along with teachers, journalists and opposition leaders accusing the Hindu nationalist government and its supporters of suppressing free speech.
Opposition politician Brinda Karat, of the Communist Party of India, welcomed Kumar’s release as a step toward clearing his name, saying the case against him was “utterly bogus” and “without evidence.”