Srinagar, Feb 16: Hardline Hurriyat Conference chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani today came out in support of former Delhi University professor S A R Geelani and JNU Students Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar, saying their arrest over alleged anti-India statements amounts to "muzzling the freedom of expression".
The separatist leader said, "this detention has no constitutional and legal justification and it is an act of muzzling the freedom of expression".
Demanding immediate release of Geelani and Kanhaiya, the Hurriyat leader said, "The secular and democratic claims of India are badly exposed day by day and this country is on its way to become an extremely intolerant Hindu Rashtra."
He also termed as "baseless and ridiculous" the comment by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh linking the JNU event with Pakistan and Hafiz Sayeed.
Controversial Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid also jumped into the row, saying "I thank and salute the students and scholars of JNU for raising their voice against the hanging of (Parliament attack convict Afzal) Guru. Hats off to them."
He added, "Unfortunately, BJP and Congress are trying to use it for political gains and are giving it a political colour.
It is an ideological war and battle of ideas, not a battle between BJP and Congress." Rashid said "if the students of JNU are anti-national, then why is BJP trying to ally with the PDP" whose MLAs "had endorsed my stand on Guru on eve of seeking my support for Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council elections last year".