A committee set up by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, has concluded that the recitation of a Faiz Ahmad Faiz poem by students protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act on campus last year was “unsuitable to the time and place”, The Indian Express reported on Monday. The committee also found the role of five teachers and six students who participated in the protest to be “less than desirable” and recommended that the college counsel them.
The six-member committee was set up to look into a complaint against the recitation of Faiz’s poem “Hum Dekhenge” on December 17 at a students’ demonstration. They had held the event in protest against police personnel beating up students at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi.
The allegedly offending lines were: “From the abode of God, when the icons of falsehood will be removed/ When we, the faithful, who have been barred from sacred places, will be seated on a high pedestal/ When crowns will be tossed, when thrones will be brought down”.
Vashi Mant Sharma, the teacher who filed the complaint along with 16 others, had said that the lines hurt his religious sentiments. “How can they sing a poem that says idols will be brought down?” he asked. “It refers to the invasion of India by Mughals and hurts my religious feelings.”
In January, IIT-Kanpur had said that the committee would not investigate if sentiments of Hindus were hurt. “The institute has set up a committee to look into all these complaints to see if they are genuine,” IIT-Kanpur Director Abhay Karandikar had said, pointing out that one of the complaints had turned out to be false. The committee was tasked to investigate if “inflammatory, abusive and intimidating language” was used during the protest.
Manindra Agarwal, committee chairperson and deputy director, told The Indian Express that the panel submitted its report last week. “The committee observed that perhaps, at that time and place, it was not the most suitable thing to say,” he said. “The person who recited that agreed with this perspective and wrote a note saying that he regrets in case anybody’s feelings were hurt. So that matter was closed.”
Agarwal said that the poem was not very suitable for the occasion because people with different views and thought processes were present on campus. “One should not do things that could agitate people even further,” Agarwal said. He added that it was a “volatile situation”. Agarwal asserted that the committee did not examine “the interpretation of the poem”.
Agarwal had suggested in January that a video from the event suggests that the poem “provokes anti-Hindu sentiments”.