Fourteen students of Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh were booked for sedition on Tuesday evening after clashes that followed a confrontation with journalists from news channel Republic TV. The police filed a First Information Report against the students based on a complaint by Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha district leader Mukesh Lodhi.
News about a fracas on campus began to emerge early on Tuesday evening when a student posted a tweet accusing a Republic TV crew shooting on campus of referring to the institution as a “university of terrorists” in an attempt to elicit a reaction.
The university’s students union called the FIR “false and fabricated” and claimed that the Republic TV team and “some associates of RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] and BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] entered the campus with malafide intention”.
“They were asking farcical questions and labelling AMU with terror and anti-national activities,” the union’s president, Salman Imtiaz, said. “When the AMU students challenged the said media reporters on its manner of questions and asked them to seek permission from relevant authorities, the reporters heckled the students and the female reporter threatened to frame false sexual harassment charges against the students.”
According to Imtiaz, the university staff asked the crew to stop the reporting but they “continued with the aggression”. “This led to the disruption in the campus,” he said. It was followed by a reaction from a well-armed gang of BJP terrorists who started beating AMU students and were beaten in defence.”
The person who filed the FIR against the 14 students was allegedly part of the crowd. His FIR claimed that “hundreds of AMU students” surrounded his vehicle and assaulted him and fired at him. The FIR accused the AMU students of shouting pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans.
The Republic TV staffer Nalini Sharma claimed that she had done nothing to provoke the students.
Following the incident, the university administration filed two separate complaints with the police – one against the journalists for entering the campus without permission and the other against unidentified miscreants for indulging in arson and unlawful activities, The Indian Express reported.
Hamza Sufyan, the vice president of the students’ union, told The Indian Express, said that fracas had erupted during a student event about oppressed sections of the society. “The reporters from Republic TV did not have permission to cover the event or enter the university premises,” Sufyan alleged. “When they were stopped by the proctor, they misbehaved with university officials and got into a confrontation, raising objectionable slogans calling AMU a ‘university of terrorists’.”
Republic TV staffer Sharma disputed this version of events. “Some journalists are reporting ‘versions’ of students saying that reporters were calling AMU students ‘terrorists’,” she tweeted. “Nothing can be further away from the truth! Anyone interested in confirming for themselves can watch Republic’s live report around 1.30 pm when the whole incident began.”
She accused a group of students of heckling and physically assaulting her and others from the channel. “When we tried to fight back, our camera and other equipment was snatched from us,” Sharma alleged. “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.”
No permission to shoot at AMU
A video released late on Tuesday showed the proctor asking the cameraperson and reporter to stop recording as they did not have permission. “Have you taken permission from the university,” he is seen asking. He asks them to “please leave” and tells them to understand his position. But the reporter and cameraperson ignore him and record their show. When the proctor tried to physically stop the recording, the reporter entered into an argument and asked him “Who are you to touch the camera?”
Scroll.in has not independently verified the veracity of the video.