A third-year engineering student at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K) whose public recitation of a controversial poem triggered a complaint by a faculty member in December, has told the institute that he regrets “hurting sentiments” and the “error in judgement”.
The poem titled ‘Hum dekhenge’ by Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz contained lines that, as per the faculty member, call for “destruction of all idols” and emphasises that ‘only Allah must be worshipped”.
The recitation was part of a gathering held without permission in the campus on 17 December to express ‘solidarity with Jamia students’.
Watch the video below:
After the written complaint, the institute formed a six-member committee to probe if any student or teacher indulged in “inflammatory, abusive and intimidating language” during the event and on social media later.
The committee submitted its report to the institute director last week. Five teachers and six students have been named for their “less-than-desirable” conduct. The committee has recommended the institute to “counsel” them.
‘Studying whether poem is anti-Hindu was never a mandate of the committee’
Committee head and IIT Kanpur’s deputy director Manindra Agarwal told Swarajya, “We asked him [the student] if he thinks his recitation of the poem at that time, when heated exchanges were taking place, was right. He said his intention was not to hurt anybody’s feelings. And in case anyone’s sentiments were hurt, he was sorry about it.”
“The committee considers that matter to be closed,” Agarwal says.
While Agarwal declined to share the copy or even excerpts of the confidential report, a reliable source told this correspondent that the committee report says that the student regrets his “error in judgement” in reading out the poem in a charged atmosphere in a way that it provoked the group opposed to the march.
Agarwal also declined to share the identity of the persons named in the report.
“Let’s just say some people did not do their job responsibly,” he said.
Contrary to some media reports in January that said that the committee had been tasked to study if the poem was “anti-Hindu”, Agarwal says it was never a mandate of the committee. “The committee was not going to analyse the meaning of the poem. That was never our mandate. We were simply looking to understand why passions got inflamed so much. And who owes responsibility,” he says.
About the recommended counselling, Agarwal says that “it may not have happened” because of campus lockdown in the wake of corona scare. The institute has suspended classes for two weeks and asked the students and other members to not come to the campus soon in case they are on vacation.
Institute had formed committee after Swarajya reported about complaint
In December, Swarajya exclusively reported that Vashi Sharma, a faculty from the mechanical department, had submitted a mobile-shot video of the protest to the director, appealing for action against the participants.
The video showed a crowd of over hundred gathered at the institute’s open air threatre (OAT). One of them held a placard saying “tumhari laathi aur goli se tez hamari awaaz hai” (our voice is louder than your sticks and bullets). Another placard said, “IIT Kanpur condemns police brutality on Jamia & AMU students. Shame on Delhi police”.
At one point, a participant began to recite some lines recorded on his mobile phone.
The lines said,
लाज़िम है कि हम भी देखेंगे
जब अर्ज-ए-ख़ुदा के काबे से
सब बुत उठवाए जाएँगे...
सब ताज उछाले जाएँगे
सब तख़्त गिराए जाएँगे
बस नाम रहेगा अल्लाह का...
Sharma wrote in his complaint, “The lines are integral part of anti-India militancy in Kashmir and used by terrorists and protesters.”
Folliwng is the translation of the lines that Sharma gave:
“We will witness
It is definite that we too will witness
When from Allah's place
When all idols will be removed
When crowns will be tossed
When thrones will vanish
Only Allah's name will remain...”
Sharma’s complaint, signed by 15 students, further said, “I was shocked as 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.”
After Swarajya’s report, the institute’s director, Dr Abhay Karandikar, replied to this correspondent on Twitter.
“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 tweet said.
Manindra Agarwal told this correspondent at that time that the organisers had not been given permission by the administration to hold a large gathering.
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