Republic TV crew, students scuffle on AMU campus

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: February 13, 2019

Republic crew allegedly reports without permission, calls students "terrorists" 


A team from Republic TV was involved in an altercation with students at Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, on Tuesday, February 12, per multiple media reports.

The Indian Express reported that students "accused" the Republic TV crew of "shooting on campus without permission" and making an objectionable remark regarding the university. AMU student Sharjeel Usmani posted the following on Facebook: "Just now: Arnab's Republic TV in AMU was reporting live that 'we're standing in the university of terrorists'. Students tried to intervene and the reporters started abusing the students. One of the cameramen manhandled with the students, calling us all terrorist. I tried intervening and he attacked me with his pen. Students have shown them their way out of the varsity campus.'We are not going to be intimidated by terrorist', is what their reporter said."

AMUSU president Salman Imtiaz told The Quint, "We were holding a meeting today. The reporters from Republic TV called me and said that I get them entry into the campus. I clearly told them that they will need permission from the administration. They still entered without any permission. Later, we gave them an interview about the meeting before it began. They should have left after that as they did not have permission. They then began doing their bulletin there and said things like ‘today we are on a land of terrorists,’ and so on. The students then intervened and asked them not to say such things. The female reporter started threatening them in return,” adding, “All this was planned for a pre-planned propaganda. There are some people who want to create nuisance on the campus. If we wanted to create ruckus, we would not have given them an interview in the first place. There are some BJP-RSS goons on the campus who want to create a communal atmosphere on the campus".

Sabrang received a video of Imtiaz talking to reporters, where he accused the BJP and RSS–naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah–of making efforts to break Hindu-Muslim unity at AMU. He alleged that, on Tuesday, goons sent by them openly carried pistols and fired at students and the administration. He questioned why there was a problem with the AMUSU holding an event aimed at empowering those who have been oppressed and marginalised. He alleged that the goons from the BJP and RSS, naming Ajay Singh and Aman Sharma had the sole aim of splintering Hindu-Muslim unity, and called for them to be charged under the National Security Act (NSA), saying that this was a national security matter, based on their aim to break down communal harmony. He also alleged that the Republic TV team had come to the AMU campus at Ajay Singh’s behest. (this is a paraphrasal of statements made in the video, which can be viewed below):

Addl SP of Aligarh Ashutosh Dwivedi verified to Janta Ka Reporter that there was an altercation between the Republic TV team and AMU students that led to their camera being damaged. He said, "AMU was organising an event inside the campus and Republic TV was keen to broadcast that even live. But the university administration and students did not give them permission to do so. But, the Republic TV crew insisted and decided to broadcast the event live. This led to a minor scuffle between them." According to Dwivedi, broadcasting from AMU’s campus is barred unless permission is obtained.

Sharjeel Usmani, who had been posting updates on the situation at AMU on Facebook, reported on the altercation between the Republic TV team and AMU students, saying that the Republic TV crew refused to leave after repeated requests, and extensively outlined the details of the incident. He noted that "What happened outside the varsity gate was a completely different issue," explaining that he heard that Ajay Singh Thakur was marching towards the varsity gate with members of the BJP. He said, "…we got to know that Ajay Singh Thakur (Aligarh MLA’s grandson) alongwith members of BJP were marching towards varsity gate to stop a meeting in which they believe Asaduddin Owaisi was present. The whole Asaduddin Owaisi thing was going on in local media for a couple of days, although Owaisi was never invited to the meeting. It started with Ajay Singh’s remark published in a local Hindi newspaper which said, ‘Owaisi jaiso ko Aligarh me nahi ghusne denge’ which was followed by similar remarks from Hindu Mahasabha, Bhartiya Janta Kisan Mahasabhia, local BJP leaders. 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 and started demanding arrest of the students. The students on the other sat at the varsity gate to protest against the BJP guys demanding their arrest. The Republic team was their 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." His lengthy Facebook post recounting the incidents may be read here. 

Later,  after midnight, Usmani posted photographs of the university’s Bab e Syed gate, depicting students gathered and demonstrating.

Credit: Sharjeel Usmani

He also reported that Mohd Arif Khan, an MA student studying political science, had been attacked near Chungi gate, saying that his injuries suggested that Khan was beaten with a rod and bats. 

Jan Patr reported that an FIR has been registered against 14 AMU students, including AMUSU president Salman Imtiaz. They have been charged under Indian Penal Code sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 392 (robbery), 307 (attempt to murder), 322 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 124A (sedition), 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), and 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), according to Jan Patra, which noted that, on the other hand, no action was taken on the complaint that the students had filed.

Meanwhile, Republic said that its crew was attacked on AMU’s campus, alleging that despite the police being present, university staff and students "snatched and destroyed equipment…burnt the camera," and that other reporters attempting to film the incident "were also attacked." Legal correspondent Nalini Sharma was one of the two Republic TV reporters present. She tweeted extensively, saying that she had been reporting on a story unrelated to AMU "when the students began to heckle and threaten us." In her account, Sharma said the Republic team was "physically pushed, verbally abused and harassed," and that their camera was broken. She categorically denied that reporters called AMU students "terrorists".