JNU Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is facing sedition charges and is out on bail, said on Tuesday that finishing his PhD has become a "political responsibility" for him rather than an academic one.
"Questions are being raised about the subsidies being given to us, " said Kanhaiya Kumar, referring to the suggestion that the "anti - national" activities of some of the students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here made them undeserving of tax payer - funded benefits.
"We are asked why it was taking us so long to finish the PhD.
So therefore it has become more of a political responsibility than an academic responsibility, " said Kanhaiya Kumar at the 'Idea of India' conclave organised by the Centre for Policy Analysis.
He said the government was trying to destroy the education system in India.
"Every government in India has tried to destroy the education system.
Because through education people learn to express dissent and start asking questions, " Kanhaiya Kumar said.
"The government has money to buy fighter jets worth thousands of crores of rupees but is cutting back on subsidies in education.
If this is their idea of India I reject it. "
Umar Khalid, another JNU student facing sedition charges, said the current government was trying to turn the universities into a prison.
"A university which doesn't allow dissent is a prison and this government is making universities into jail.
This is the most brutal government ever", Khalid said.
Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid were arrested on charges of sedition for organising an event on February 9 on the JNU campus commemorating the death of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti - national slogans were allegedly raised.