AMU Row: Out-of-Town Student Among 14 Others Booked for Sedition

14 students were booked under sedition for allegedly raising ‘anti-India’ slogans during a scuffle at AMU.

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India
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14 students were booked under sedition for allegedly raising ‘anti-India’ slogans during a scuffle at AMU.
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Fourteen students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) were booked under sedition and eight other charges after separate incidents of scuffle broke out in the campus on Tuesday, 12 February. One of the students who were booked, Mashkoor Usmani, claims he was in Delhi when the incident occurred.

Speaking to The Quint, Mashkoor said, “I am in Delhi to support the ongoing protests in Jamia Millia University. They have included my name in the FIR because the BJP people have an age-old enmity with me.”

The FIR was filed by Aligarh’s Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha President, Mukesh Lodhi, who claims there were “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans being raised by the accused students after an altercation with Republic TV journalists on Tuesday morning. However, he could not provide any proof of his claims.

Here are two versions of what went down at AMU yesterday:

What AMU Students Claim:

On The Scuffle With Republic TV Journalists:

Narrating the sequence of events, AMU Political Science student Sharjeel Usmani told The Quint that on Tuesday morning a crew of Republic TV was in campus to cover an event of “small, sidelined Muslim political parties in UP and marginalised activists to discuss the government's failures and achievements.” Sharjeel said since the journalists did not have prior permission from the PRO to cover the meeting, a security officer had requested them to leave the campus.

In a video that surfaced on Facebook, a journalist from Republic TV, Nalini Sharma, is seen continuing to report live on the ongoing protests against stopping Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav at the Lucknow airport, despite several requests by a security officer. The security officer, Azeem Akhtar, is then seeing losing his cool and blocking the camera with his hand. Nalini is then seen stopping her live reporting and asking the security office, “How dare you touch our equipment?”

In another video broadcast by Republic TV, a second security officer is seen trying to calm down the situation while a group of students gather around the journalist crew and officials.

Sharjeel alleged on Facebook that the Republic reporter had, on air, said they were reporting from “the university of terrorists” while Sharma rubbished the allegations and said they were attacked because they were attacked because they were from Republic TV.

Read Republic TV’s version of events here.

On the Scuffle Regarding Owaisi’s Invitation

Sharjeel says after an altercation with the students, the Republic TV crew left the campus and was waiting outside for their car. He says, soon after, there were some Hindu students from the University, including Ajay Singh, who is the grandson of Aligarh BJP MLA Dalveer Singh, and few other local BJP leaders tried to enter the campus in protest against AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s alleged presence in the ongoing meeting in the campus.

Sharjeel said that there was no invitation sent to Owaisi and neither was he present in the campus.

He alleged that a BJP leader fired at a student who narrowly escaped death. In retaliation, he says, the students burnt down two of their motorbikes.

On the FIR and Sedition Charges:

Sharjeel denied any anti-India slogans being raised during the scuffle. He said, “There was absolutely no sloganeering, the sedition charges are politically motivated.”

Cases under Sections 124-A (sedition), Section 307 (attempt to murder) and eight other sections of the IPC have been registered against nine students of the AMU, including the President of Union Salman Imtiaz and the vice president of AMU Students Union Huzaifa Aamir.

Heard AMU Students Chanting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’: BJP District Head

BJP district head Mukesh Lodhi who filed the FIR said he was “passing by” the AMU campus when he saw few AMU students assaulting Republic TV journalists and Hindu students from the university. He added, “I heard them saying “Hindustan Murdabad, Pakistan Zindabad.”

He said he could not record any video of the same since there “was too much happening.”

“When I tried to stop them, they started firing at me and vandalised my car. A bullet went and hit my car. I had a narrow escape.”

When asked about a photo circulating with him holding a gun, Lodhi said rubbished the photo as “fake” and claimed it was animated. He also denied that there was any firing from his side.”

‘Will Remove Sedition Clause if Charges Are Not Proved’: Aligarh SSP

Senior Superintendent of Police, Aligarh, Akash Kulhary told The Quint, “The sedition clause is a matter of investigation. If the charges are not proved against the students, we will remove that case.” He added that there has been no video of the alleged incident so far.

Clarifying on why there has been no action taken on the complaint filed by the student union, Kulhary said, “The incident for which we have filed the FIR happened outside the campus and we have sought a report from the college administration on the other complaints which had taken place inside the college area.”

He added that the law and order situation is under control but internet connectivity has been suspended across Aligarh as a precautionary measure.

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