Hindi film lyricist Javed Akhtar on Thursday termed absurd and funny the decision of the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur to set up a panel to decide if legendary poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poem Hum Dekhenge offends Hindu sentiments.

Akhtar told ANI that it was difficult to seriously discuss the institution’s decision. “He [Faiz] lived half his life outside Pakistan, he was called anti-Pakistan there,” said the lyricist, pointing out that Hum Dekhenge was written to protest against Pakistani dictator Zia ul Haq’s communal, regressive and fundamentalist government.

Akhtar explained a phrase from the poem and said, “He has mentioned a phrase – ‘Goonjega an-al-haq ka naara’, which means ‘aham brahma’. It means that the creator and creation is one, it is not an Islamic thought.”

A police crackdown on students of Jamia Millia Islamia University on December 15 evoked a strong reaction from education campuses across India. The Jamia students were protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. During a campus demonstration on December 17, the IIT-Kanpur students recited Faiz’s poem.

In response, temporary faculty member Vashimant Sharma and 16 others filed a complaint against those who recited poem. “The written complaint filed by them with the IIT Director states that the poem had some wordings that could hurt the sentiments of Hindus,” said the institution’s Deputy Director Manindra Agarwal. “A committee of six members was established, headed by me, to investigate the matter. Some students have been questioned, while the others will be questioned after they return to the institution after the holidays.”

Agarwal also said the video of the recitation “suggests that the poem provokes anti-Hindu sentiments”. “Who knows Faiz Ahmad Faiz?” he asked. The inquiry committee will also investigate if the students defied prohibitory orders on the day of the march, and the social media posts they shared ahead of the demonstration.

Also read and watch:

  1. The Art of Resistance: How Faiz’s ‘Hum Dekhenge’ has battled tyranny across time and place
  2. What is Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s ‘Hum Dekhenge’ about? This translation helps understand