UP Police Drops Sedition Charges from FIR Against Ayodhya Students
Sedition charges were slapped after the college principal accused the six of raising anti-national slogans.
Days after it booked six people in Ayodhya, including college students on charges of sedition, the Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday, 28 December, removed the controversial section from a first information report that was filed following a complaint from the principal of a government-run degree college.
Speaking to The Quint, Ashutosh Mishra, the Station House Officer of Kotwali Ayodhya that the “sedition charge was removed as no evidence could be found.” He added that the matter is being investigated, while declining to comment any further.
WHAT HAD HAPPENED?
In mid December, student leaders, mainly affiliated to the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, had sat on a protest demanding that the college declare dates for student union elections pending in January.
The charge of sedition was slapped after ND Pandey, Principal of Ayodhya’s KS Saket Degree College, filed an FIR claiming that a group of outsiders and student leaders had allegedly raised slogans like le ke rahange azadi (we will take our freedom), after reportedly entering the college, closing its gates and misbehaving with students.
However, at least three of the accused told The Quint that although they had raised azadi slogans, it was directed against the college authorities and was not anti-national in nature.
WHO ARE THE ACCUSED?
The FIR names Sumit Tewari, Shesh Narayan Pandey, Imran Hashmi, Satwik Pandey, Mohit Yadav and Manoj Mishra. While the first five are student leaders presently enrolled at the college, Mishra is a former student.
According to the FIR, six people have been booked under IPC Sections 124-A (sedition), 147 (rioting) and 506 (criminal intimidation), apart from charges of obstructing public servants.
WHAT DO THE ACCUSED HAVE TO SAY?
Imran Hashmi, one of the six named in the FIR, claimed that allegations levelled by the college principal are completely false and that students were peacefully demanding that dates for students union elections – pending in January 2021 – be declared soon.
Hashmi, who is affiliated to the Bahujan Samajwadi Party’s youth wing, said if students had really raised “anti-India and anti-national slogans” then the principal should be able to proof the same.
“We had only raised slogans of azadi (freedom) against the corrupt college administration. Never did we ask for freedom from the country. This is a serious charge. Does our college principal want to label us anti-nationals?”Imran Hashmi
When asked about allegations of disrupting classes and locking the college gate, Hashmi said that they were protesting peacefully and only wanted the college to declare dates for student union elections “as any further would disqualify many under the upper age limit set for contesting student body elections.”
WHAT IS THE PRINCIPAL’S RESPONSE?
When asked about what happened on 16 December, Principal ND Pandey said that “the police and administration officials who were present at the spot could best describe the lawlessness that was being spread on campus.”
Principal Pandey then hung up the call without notice and did not respond to repeated calls seeking his understanding of the events.
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