Fourteen students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) were booked on sedition charges after two groups of students clashed on campus on Tuesday following a protest against an alleged attack on a visiting news crew from Republic TV, the police said.
Civil Lines police filed a first information report (FIR) against the students, who allegedly raised pro-Pakistan slogans, based on a complaint by the district president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
As a precautionary measure, the district administration suspended Internet services in the city until noon on Thursday and deployed the Rapid Action Force in the AMU circle.
The TV channel team members were allegedly attacked over live coverage of a meeting to which political parties had been invited to talk about the representation of Muslims in the electoral process.
“Two student groups clashed on the university campus and one of them sat on dharna seeking action against those who attacked them. However, the other group alleged that some outsiders were participating in the agitation and should be removed. On this, the clash erupted,” said Ashutosh Dwivedi, superintendent of police (city).
“Firing also took place and a bullet hit the car of BJYM (district) president, Mukesh Lodhi, who lodged an FIR against a dozen people, including office bearers of the AMU Students’ Union (AMUSU) and other students,” he added.
Those named in the FIR included former AMUSU president, Nadeem Ansari, current president , Salman Imtiaz, vice president, Humza Sufiyan, and secretary, Huzaifa Aamir. The others were Mashqoor Ahmad, Zaid Sherwani, Naved Alam, Arif Tyagi, Farhan Zubairi, Nazmul Sakhif, Zaki, Rihan, Asad and other unidentified AMU students.
“These students of AMU fired at me, but I escaped and the bullet struck my car. They raised slogans like Pakistan Zindabad and Bharat Murdabad. I and my friend Manoj Sharma were beaten up but we managed to escape,” Lodhi wrote in his FIR.
The students were booked on charges of sedition and under other sections of the Indian Penal Code. “The case was registered against those who were named under various sections, including that for sedition. The matter will be investigated, for which CCTV footage will be scanned. We have asked the AMU administration to assist in identifying those seen in clippings,” said Akash Kulhari, senior superintendent of police (Aligarh).
AMU proctor, Mohd Mohsin Khan, suspended eight students, including Ajay Singh, who had been vocal in his opposition to AMUSU’s invitation to Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) .
Ajay Singh, a student of law, is the grandson of BJP MLA (Aligarh rural), Dalveer Singh. He had contested the AMUSU election and lost.
It was prima facie established that these students had committed acts of indiscipline. “These students will not be allowed entry into the university campus,” said Shafey Kidwai, spokesperson for AMU.
“The situation is under control after the police and administration acted swiftly. But Internet services are being blocked so that antisocial elements are restricted from spreading rumours, which can affect the law and order situation,” stated district magistrate, Chandra Bhushan Singh.
AMUSU president, Imtiaz, vice president, Sufiyan, and secretary, Aamir, accused a section of students of disturbing the university’s atmosphere. “An effort is being made to create a Hindu-Muslim divide on the campus in view of the Lok Sabha elections. We appeal for peace. The administration should check antisocial elements and deal strictly with divisive forces,” they wrote in a statement to the press.