The Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur has clarified that a six-member panel set up to investigate a December 17 campus protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act would not investigate if sentiments of Hindus were hurt by the recital of Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s iconic poem Hum Dekhenge, The Hindu reported on Friday.
“The reality is that the institute has received complaints from multiple sections of the community that during a protest march taken out by students certain poem was read and then subsequently certain social media posts were made, which were inflammatory,” The Telegraph quoted IIT-Kanpur Director Abhay Karandikar as saying on Thursday. The poem was read to express solidarity with students of Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi, who had faced police violence two days before.
He said one of the complaints that the administration had received turned out to be false. “So, the institute has set up a committee to look into all these complaints to see if they are genuine,” Karandikar added. “And if they are genuine, what remedial action is to be taken.”
Earlier in the day, there was massive outrage after a temporary faculty member Vashimant Sharma and 16 others filed a complaint against the demonstrators for reciting the poem, and the institution’s Deputy Director Manindra Agarwal said a video from the event “suggests that the poem provokes anti-Hindu sentiments”.
However, Agarwal clarified that the inquiry committee headed by him would not “determine whether sentiments were hurt or not”. He added: “Instead, the six-member panel would investigate if there was any deliberate mischief.”
Responding to the initial reports, Faiz’s daughter Salima Hashmi said the institution’s decision was funny. Hashmi had said Faiz, who died in November 1984, was a controversial personality but his work appealed to even those who hated his ideas. She pointed out that controversies had always made curious people search for the source, and hoped that people would succumb to the power of her father’s poetry. “Let’s look at in another way, they may end up getting interested in Urdu poetry and its metaphors,” she told PTI. “Never underestimate the power of Faiz.”
Hindi film lyricist Javed Akhtar described IIT-Kanpur’s decision as absurd and funny. He pointed out that during his lifetime Faiz was labelled “anti-Pakistani”, and reminded people that Hum Dekhenge was written in protest against Pakistani dictator Zia ul Haq’s communal, regressive and fundamentalist government.