India protest march against 'sedition' arrest of student leader

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Media captionThousands protest against 'sedition' arrest of JNU student leader

Thousands of supporters of a student leader from a top Indian university have marched to protest against his arrest on sedition charges.

Kanhaiya Kumar has been remanded in custody until 2 March.

Anger is running high after Mr Kumar was beaten up by lawyers when he was brought to court on Wednesday.

Mr Kumar was arrested after organising a rally against the 2013 hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru at which anti-India slogans were allegedly raised.

Afzal Guru was convicted over a 2001 plot to attack India's parliament - charges he always denied. The attack was carried out by Kashmiri militants and left 14 people dead.

The rallies against Mr Kumar's arrest took place in cities across India. Organisers said about 10,000 people gathered in the capital Delhi.

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Image caption Thousands took to the streets in New Delhi in support of student leader Kanhaiya Kumar

There were some counter marches by supporters of the India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Correspondents say that tensions are high following the attack on Mr Kumar, the student leader from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), inside the Patiala court house by a group of lawyers shouting patriotic slogans on Wednesday.

Mr Kumar was injured as a result of the incident.

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Image caption There were counter marches, like this one by supporters of the BJP in Kolkata
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Kanhaiya Kumar was attacked by a group of lawyers inside the Patiala court house in Delhi

India's Supreme Court has expressed concern over the violence and asked for a report. It has also made Delhi's top police official, BS Bassi, directly responsible for Mr Kumar's safety.

The arrest of Mr Kumar on the charge of "sedition" sparked outraged protests from faculty members, university students and sections of the media, who called it an overblown reaction to student action.

Meanwhile, three officials of a student wing from JNU affiliated to the BJP have resigned from their posts, expressing disappointment over the way in which the issue has been handled.

Protests have spread to other universities across the country. Students from the southern city of Chennai (Madras) clashed with police on Thursday morning, while protests in a top university in the eastern city of Kolkata (Calcutta) turned violent.

Political parties have also joined the protest, with opposition groups condemning the government action.

However, angry government ministers have not backed down, and vowed to punish the "anti-national elements".

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