Republic TV Journos Get Into Scuffle with Students at AMU
News channel Republic TV has landed in a fresh controversy after two of its female reporters, Nalini Sharma and Sumaira Khan, and their crew got into a scuffle with the students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) while covering an event on Tuesday, 12 February.
While the students allege that one of the reporters called AMU the “university of terrorists” during the live coverage, the reporters allege that they were attacked only because they were from Republic TV.
The journalists were reportedly there to cover an event of small, sidelined political parties and marginalised activists to discuss the government's failures and achievements.
A video of the scuffle that has been broadcast by Republic shows Sharma arguing with the security on campus amid a crowd of students
While Republic reported that an FIR has been lodged against unknown persons in the matter, here are the two versions of the incident:
AMU Students’ Version:
Sharjeel Usmani, a student at the university, alleged on Facebook that the Republic reporter had, on air, said that they were reporting from “the university of terrorists”.
Here’s what the Facebook post read:
“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 [sic].”
AMU Student's Union President Salman Imtiaz told The Quint that the crew had entered without proper permission, and that this ruckus was a “pre-planned propaganda”.
"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,” he said
“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,” he added.
Republic TV’s Version:
Nalini Sharma, one of the reporters with Republic TV who was at the AMU and allegedly attacked, said that the reports of them calling the students “terrorists” were completely untrue and baseless. She took to Twitter to narrate their version of the incident:
“This is ABSOLUTE LIES! I’m appalled at how this has been created out of thin air. I was MYSELF standing and reporting on a story that had NOTHING to do with AMU when the students began to heckle and threaten us. We weren’t even speaking to any student in the vicinity!
I was reporting live on air when a person who identifies himself as Azeem Akhtar, Security Officer AMU came forward & asked us to stop. Since I was live on air, I didn’t respond to what he was saying. He then got agitated that he was being ignored& began messing with our equipment
I immediately got off air once he touched our equipment &asked him to back off. A no. of students gathered around us by this time and started to heckle us asking us to get out of the campus. My cameraperson was pushed around by students and our equipment was manhandled.
This was just the beginning. Slowly the crowd began to grow and there was not one police official in sight. The college security asked us to move out of the campus and as we waited for our car, the verbal heckling began to get physical with students constantly attacking us.
When we tried to fight back, our camera and other equipment was snatched from us. We were physically pushed, verbally abused and harassed. The camera was broken into pieces before us when we tried to record the hooligan behaviour that the students were indulging in.
After our camera was snatched and broken, these students formed a human chain at the gate of the campus urging the others to “not allow these women” to leave the campus “at any cost”. When we tried to break through the chain, we were pushed back and physically threatened.
My female colleague and I with the help of three of our male colleagues managed to push through the human chain and somehow get out of the campus. Outside the police officials were present, watching the drama unfold at the gate of the AMU campus.
We literally ran to our cars while the crowd (150-200 students) continued to chase us. The police provided no help. Our equipment was completely damaged (and set on fire, we were informed later) and anyone trying to record the incident was attacked and their phones broken.
I want to clarify, there was NO provocation from our side to invite this attack. I didn’t even speak to anybody inside the AMU campus until we were surrounded by this crowd of hooligans who continued saying how they’re not going to let us report because we were from Republic.
I’ve never experienced intimidation like this. Once outside the campus, I requested the local administration to retrieve our camera because it had the complete footage of everything that had happened. They said they had “no authority” inside the campus and couldn’t help us.
This is a first hand account of what happened today. Any other version of the story is simply untrue. We have some footage from phones of local journos but most of it has been destroyed. Multiple locals& police officials have told me this kind of occurance is “very common” in AMU
Some journos are reporting “versions” of students saying that reporters were calling AMU students “terrorists”. Nothing can be further away from the truth! Anyone interested in confirming for themselves can watch Republic’s live report around 1.30pm when the whole incident began.”
‘Situation Outside Campus Tense’
In another Facebook post, Sharjeel Usmani said the situation outside the campus was ‘tense’ following the incident, but the scheduled events are taking place irrespective.
“The situation outside the campus is very highly tense. I've been told that there were right groups marching towards AMU campus and firing firearms. Few bikes have been burnt down as well. Dodhpur market has been closed. To keep the campus calm and unaffected by what's happening around, we've continued with our events scheduled for today. I'm in Kennedy Auditorium with Emad Burnat whose documentary '5 Broken Cameras' was to be screened. The hall is full, which is good for us, and we'll continue the session till 8.30,” his Facebook post read.
Following the incident, Aligarh SP (city) Ashutosh Dwivedi told ANI that security has been tightened at the event considering the nature of the event.
“Union in Aligarh Muslim University wanted to organise an event where Muslim political organisations will come on one stage. Their rival group opposed this, stating that if a known figure, who happens to be an MP and holds other posts, comes they will protest,” he said.
“In the light of this, adequate security forces have been deployed in the campus. The invitees have freedom of expression, but if they say something which falls in the category of treason or creates rifts in communities, necessary action will be taken,” he added.
(With inputs from ANI and Republic TV)