After Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is now on the radar of Right-wing groups, going by a series of recent incidents that have attempted to create communal tension in the campus, the latest one leading to 14 AMU students being booked for sedition.
In the latest such incident on Tuesday afternoon, a national news channel crew with declared Right wing credentials, entered the AMU campus to shoot an event allegedly without prior permission. A verbal clash broke out when some students asked the TV crew about the permit issued by the campus authorities. Amidst all this, the TV reporter accompanying the crew captured the episode live and allegedly referred to AMU as a "university of terrorists", according to some students who were present there. However, the reporter concerned has denied saying this.
The incident took place during an event organised by the Aligarh Muslim University Students' Union (AMUSU), which had invited representatives from all political parties to speak on the political situation ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
The organisers said while there were many other reporters who had sought prior permission to cover the event, the Republic TV crew entered the meeting without permission. When they were asked to leave, they continued to shoot which eventually led to the clash.
Following the incident, 14 students of AMU have been booked for sedition. An FIR was filed by the police based on a complaint by a Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leader.
Newslclick spoke to Sharjeel Usmani who first brought this incident to the light along with several other AMU students, to know what exactly happened.
"The Republic TV crew was unwanted in the campus, more so because it hadn't even taken permission from the University Public Relation Officer. The reporter called us all terrorists and is now claiming that we were raising slogans in support of Pakistan. This is totally absurd,” he said, adding that “I'm still confused as to why some BJP associates landed up in AMU immediately after Republic TV was thrown out of the campus.”
He said that the BJP leaders said they wanted to prevent All India Majlis-e- Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi from entering the campus. “However, nobody had invited Owaisi and he wasn't coming anyway,” he said, adding that “I believe that Republic TV was here because it knew of what was going to happen. It is all the more evident after Republic TV crew and BJP members were seen together in the police station,” wondering if they were trying to repeat something like the JNU row or “creating a plot” for upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking to Newsclick, AMUSU president Salman Imtiyaz said, "The charges of sedition and others are frivolous and based on falsehood and fraud. AMUSU reiterates that the University was running peacefully and it was the people associated with BJP and its allied media house, Republic TV, who disrupted campus harmony. The facts must be placed before the nation that it was a normal day at the university and regular campus activities were being conducted."
Accusing the RSS and BJP associates who entered the campus of “malafide intention”, he said they alleged that Owaisi was in the campus for a meeting and claimed to have come to oppose that. “Owaisi was not in the campus, and his name was just used to instigate violence. When the AMU students challenged the said media reporters on its manner of questions and asked them to seek permission from the relevant authorities, the reporters heckled the students and their reporter even threatened to frame false sexual harassment charges against some students,” he alleged.
Later, Republic TV journalist Nalini Sharma, who was the epicenter of the incident, had tweeted “This is ABSOLUTE LIES! I’m appalled at how this has been created out of thin air. I was MYSELF standing and reporting on a story that had NOTHING to do with AMU when the students began to heckle and threaten us. We weren’t even speaking to any student in the vicinity!”
Students at Aligarh Muslim University are saying that a team from @Republic TV just visited campus, and reportedly physically & verbally harassed students – saying "We're standing in a university of terrorists" – to provoke an on-camera reaction.
— Raghu Karnad (@rkarnad) February 12, 2019
When asked, AMU Proctor Mohammad Mohsin Khan told Newsclick, "The news channel had not sought permission from the authorities for live coverage and when university security staff pointed this out, there was a heated exchange in which some students were also involved."
Meanwhile, complaints have been filed at the Civil Lines Police Station by both the AMU authorities and the TV channel crew. Police are still in the process of filing these reports, Akash Kulhari, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) told mediapersons.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a large group of students gathered at iconic Bab-e-Syed Gate, demanding the suspension of Ajay Singh, an AMU student, who had led a ‘Tiranga Yatra’ inside the campus last maonth without prior permission and reportedly chanted “objectionable” slogans.
The latest incident seems to be in line with that ‘Tiranga Rally’ and due to the expected visit of AIMIM lawmaker Owaisi that Ajay Singh was opposing. Singh is the grandson of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) MLA Dalvir Sing from Barauli, Aligarh.