After Swarajya Report, IIT Kanpur Sets Up Committee For ‘Disciplinary Action’, Says Jamia Solidarity Event Had No Permission

by Swati Goel Sharma - Dec 22, 2019 01:28 PM +05:30 IST
After Swarajya Report, IIT Kanpur Sets Up Committee For ‘Disciplinary Action’, Says Jamia Solidarity Event Had No PermissionA photograph of the ‘solidarity with Jamia students’ event held in IIT Kanpur on 17 December
  • The administration has also asked students and staff “to desist from using inflammatory posts/articles/speeches, on campus as well as on social media”

This correspondent reported on 21 December about a complaint submitted by a faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur) to the institute director, objecting to purported anti-India and communal statements made in a recent ‘solidarity with Jamia students’ event held in the campus.

The said event took place on 17 December. The complainant — Dr Vashi Sharma, a faculty from the mechanical department — submitted a mobile-shot video of the protest to the director. The video, posted by this correspondent on Twitter, has gone viral; within a day, it has been retweeted over 8,500 times.

The prime objection in the complaint is that one of the protesters recited a poem by Pakistani Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, that Sharma said calls for ‘destruction of all idols’ (as idol worship is prohibited in Islam) and emphasises that ‘only Allah must be worshipped’”.

Late evening on 21 December, the institute’s director, Dr Abhay Karandikar, replied to this correspondent on Twitter, saying: “Institute never permitted any such protest/march etc. DD & Dean advised students against such activity. A high-level committee with the power to take disciplinary action has been constituted based on complaints received. @IITKanpur system does not tolerate any indiscipline (sic).”

The same time, the staff and students of the institute received an email from the institute’s deputy director, Dr Manindra Agarwal, that asked them “to desist from using inflammatory posts/articles/speeches, on campus as well as on the social media”.

The email, as shared with this correspondent by a student, says:

As is evident from news coming from all over the country, we are passing through a turbulent period. In such a situation, it is imperative not to take any step that adds to the disturbance, especially if the step is in violation of the law of the land — as was the case with the recent protest march taken out by a group of students. Therefore, all institute employees and students are requested to desist from using inflammatory posts/articles/speeches, on campus as well as on the social media. It is the responsibility of each one of us to ensure that harmony is maintained and law is followed on campus. Any violation may invite action from law enforcing agencies and/or the institute authorities.

It is pertinent to mention that the complaint by Sharma has sparked a row both within the campus and on social media. Some said the poem by Faiz is not communal but “revolutionary”, critical of “military dictatorship” and “secular”, arguing that the lines saying “sab but uthwaye jayenge” and “bas naam rahega Allah ka” translate to “when deities of falsehood will be taken out” and “only the name of god will survive”.

Many others, however, pointed out that this translation was a white-wash of the poet’s original Islamist call for “second coming of Muhammad in Pakistan”.

Many said the lines peddle “casual bigotry”, “crass iconoclasm” and “were basically written to settle internal fights within a country with Islam as official religion”. Many said the lines had no place in today’s India.

Sharma’s complaint, that was signed by 15 students of the institute, had said that “these lines are cited as a communal call frequently in Pakistan, and have been popularised by Pakistan PM Imran Khan's radical anti-India party — PTI. They are published on Khan's official website.”

Sharma had also expressed concern for his and the 15 students’ safety as some of them had publicly objected to the event that day, earning the ire of the protesting crowds. Sharma and group had cited an office order that permitted no such gathering.

Sharma told this correspondent on 21 December that he and some students had been provided security by the administration.

Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.

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