A team of the Republic Bharat news channel comprising two female reporters and 2 camera-persons entered the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) campus on February 12, 2018 without permission from the authorities while the AMU Students Union were organising a programme.
Soon, a scuffle followed and things blew out of proportion. Instead of leaving when asked to leave for having come uninvited, the reporters and camera persons roughed up the students and even went to the extent of calling them terrorists and allegedly using the same words while reporting live calling the AMU as University of terrorists. Though the reporter denied having used the derogatory term in her Twitter account, Sharjeel Usmani, a student leader, wrote an open letter to the media on his Facebook wall in which he has mentioned the details of the incidents sequence wise. The AMU administration has taken cognizance of all these events and have sent applications to file two separate FIRs regarding the incident. In their press release the administration has also assured to take a disciplinary action against the students who damaged property.
The police have registered a case against 14 students of the university based on a complaint filed by Mukesh Lodhi, BJP youth wing leader. All the 14 students have charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for rioting, causing hurt including sedition, which is the gravest of all charges. The FIR also mentions that the students shouted anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans.
However the police have not taken any action on the complaint filed by the students. But the students are undeterred and are demanding that action be taken based on the complaint letter filed by them
The following is Sharjeel’s account:I reached the campus at 9.30 am for attending my classes. All was well back then. Few students were organizing a picture exhibition of the all victims of hate crimes in front of History department. First Asifa memorial lecture was scheduled at 11 am in Cultural hall of Maulana Azad Library; Films on Palestinian struggle were to be screened in Kennedy auditorium at 4:30 pm.
I got a call from a friend that Republic TV reporters are creating a problem in front of the Social Science department. I reached there as soon as I could. There were about 20 to 25 students were standing there confused. There were two male cameramen from Republic, and two female reporters. I went and respectfully asked the first cameramen to stop the recording and move out. I said, ‘I know it is your job to do this but we don’t want you here, please leave’. The cameraman was a gentleman, and immediately detached his camera from the monopod. Things were peaceful until this reporter came to me and shouted, ‘who the fuck are you to tell me what to do, we are not leaving. We have been invited by the union President’.
‘With due respect, Ma’am, I am afraid you are mistaken, I have confirmed it with the union president and the university Public Relations Officer, you are not invited here. Please leave’, I replied. The cameraman interrupted saying, ‘Dekho kaise fadta hu tum logon ki’ and he signalled the reporter to start reporting and she went, ‘We are reporting live from the university of terrorists. It seems the students are trying to attack us. AMU is showing its colour (pointing to the students who were standing there to see the scene)’.
I along with another seniors immediately went to the cameraman and tried to stop him from recording. He literally pushed me back and stabbed me with his pen, shouting and abusing. The other two female reporters went strangely very loud and started telling us that we are manhandling her. One of them came really close to us, and then got into an argument with Anas bhai ( another member of student union). ‘We are not going to get intimidated by you terrorists’, she said.
The university’s security officers had reached there by then and intervened. The security officer was an old man, and other reporter was shouting at him disrespectfully which agitated me and others. I went straight to her pointed her to leave immediately. I won’t lie, I said ‘Bahut hua apka, get the fuck out of here now!’
Photo from Sharjeel’s FB wall
All this was happening in front of the social science department. As they were moving towards the gate they stopped near the department of Mass communication and started reporting with the camera pointed towards the students. Since this was happening on the road, the people passing by stopped to see what was happening. Student Union Cabinet member Gowtham K bhai went up to and asked them to stop recording and leave. But Gowtham bhai was abused and manhandled.
One boy pushed the reporter and kicked him. Few more students followed but they were stopped by Anas bhai and Gowtham bhai. The students were shouting, ‘Go Back’, ‘Maaro’ and ‘Tod do’. However nothing of that sort happened. From what I can recall, the cameraman and his camera were completely fine when they moved out of the varsity gate.
What happened outside the varsity gate was a completely different issue. I had no clue of what was going to happen next, so I went to Kennedy auditorium to prepare for the screening we had planned. After an hour or so, we got to know that Ajay Singh Thakur (Aligarh MLA’s grandson) along with members of BJP were marching towards varsity gate to stop a meeting in which they believed Asaduddin Owaisi was present. False rumours doing the round on the local TV that MP Assaddudin Owaisi is coming to this particular program at AMU following which Ajay Singh gave a statement to a Hindi newspaper ‘Owaisi jaiso ko Aligarh me nahi ghusne denge’ ( We will not allow the likes of Owaisi to enter Aligarh) which was followed by similar remarks from Hindu Mahasabha, Bhartiya Janta Kisan Mahasabhia and local BJP leaders. The truth was that Owaisi was not even invited.
When the BJP members reached the campus gate, Union members and students were already present there to stop them. One of the BJP goon fired bullet at union secretary Huzaifa Amir. The students went violent and burnt his bike. The BJP guys left for nearby market (Dodhpur) which a Muslim majority area and forced people to close down their shops. Later they went to the nearest police station demanding arrest of the students. The students on the other hand sat at the varsity gate to protest against the BJP guys demanding their arrest. The Republic team was there all the time reporting the series of events that unfolded. The police was there and did nothing. I still have no idea what was Republic doing there, unless they knew that BJP guys will come to create violence. That is all I know.
Picture: You can see the BJP goon carrying gun, and guy beside him is Ajay Singh Thakur.