IIT-K Panel Says Reading of Faiz’s ‘Hum Dekhenge’ Was ‘Unsuitable’

The panel said that the five teachers and six students who participated in the protest should be “counselled”.

2 min read
The panel also said that the five teachers and six students who participated in the protest should be “counselled”.

A committee set up by IIT-Kanpur to investigate students reading out Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s iconic poem Hum Dekhenge on 17 December 2019 at an anti-CAA protest found it to have been “unsuitable to time and place,” reports The Indian Express. The panel added that the five teachers and six students who participated in the protest should be "counselled" and that their involvement was “less than desirable”.

The controversy broke out when a group of students at IIT-Kanpur recited Hum Dekhenge at an anti-CAA protest to express solidarity with the students of Jamia Millia Islamia after Delhi Police entered their campus on 15 December 2019.

Vashi Mant Sharma, a temporary teacher at IIT-Kanpur, had reportedly objected to the following verses of the renowned poet's Urdu nazm, “Jab arz-e-Khuda ke Ka’abe se, sab buutt uthwaae jaayenge" and “Bas naam rahega Allah ka, jo gayab bhi hai haazir bhi.” These lines roughly translate to, "When from the sacred square of the Kaaba, idols of false Gods will be uprooted” and “Only the name of Allah will prevail, Allah who is invisible and yet omnipresent.”

Speaking at the time to The Quint, Sharma had said,

“I knew that the protest march on 17 December was not permitted by the institute’s administration. Then those lines were recited, which I found objectionable. Basically, it was the lines, ‘Sab buth uthwaye jayenge, naam rahega Allah ka’ so on and so forth. I thought this is not right.”

What Did the IIT-Kanpur Panel Say?

Manindra Agarwal, committee chairperson and deputy director, told The Indian Express on 16 March that “the committee observed that perhaps it was not the most suitable thing to say. Person who recited this poem agreed, and has written a note saying that he regrets it, in case feelings were hurt.”

He added that the poem was recited in a “volatile environment” and that “people with different thought processes and different perspectives were there, and were agitated.” Commenting on the recitation, he said, “one should not do things that could agitate people even further.”

However, he clarified that the different interpretations of Faiz's iconic poem were not looked into by the IIT-K panel, merely the ‘suitability’ of reciting it at the given place.

‘Permission Was Not Taken’

The committee also found that the permission for the march had been withdrawn before it was taken out.

Agarwal said, "The institute had informed organisers of the march around 11 am or 12 noon that permission has been withdrawn, and also Section 144 imposed by city administration."

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