Faiz Row in IIT Kanpur Sparked by ‘Gau Rakshak’ Faculty Member

As they face inquiry for organising a march in solidarity with Jamia & AMU, students of IIT Kanpur speak up.

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(This story was originally published on 10 January 2020 and is being republished from The Quint’s archives after an IIT-K panel found that students reciting Faiz’s Hum Dekhenge was “unsuitable.”)

Video Editor: Sandeep Suman & Purnendu Pritam

On 17 December, a group of students at IIT Kanpur took out a silent march on campus, two days after incidents of police brutality at Jamia Millia Islamia University and the Aligarh Muslim University came to the fore. Through the march, the students expressed solidarity with the two universities.

“What happened in Jamia and AMU was wrong. Police attacked students pointlessly. If it is happening there today, it can happen to us tomorrow. Hence, we need to stand united against the current existing authoritative regime.”
Adarsh (Name Changed), IIT Kanpur student

Four days later, on 21 December, students received an official email over the in-house intranet from the institute’s deputy director, Manindra Agarwal, informing them of the inquiry set up by the college administration.

“There was a complaint made and then an inquiry was set up. However, I do not really believe that the inquiry will be unbiased or that the motives were not politically driven.”
Adarsh (Name Changed), IIT Kanpur student

But who filed the complaint against these students, who were simply marching on campus in silence with the ‘hands-up’ gesture, in solidarity with their counterparts in Delhi and Aligarh?

A faculty member, Vashimant Sharma, along with 15 students filed a complaint for organising a protest despite Section 144 being in force in Kanpur that day. Sharma was particularly irked at the recital of Faiz’s poem, ‘Hum Dekhenge’ by students at the culmination of the march.

“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.”
Vashimant Sharma, Faculty, IIT Kanpur

A search of Sharma’s Facebook timeline, however, reveals that his organisation ‘Agniveer’ is actively involved into ‘gau raksha’ and ‘conversion of tribals to Hinduism’. Sharma often brags about conversion of Muslim women as well, whom he feels have been saved from the ‘perils of love jihad.’

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