Spread on a 300-acre campus, Mohammad Ali Jauhar University lies approximately 7 km from Rampur city, in the district of the same name in Uttar Pradesh. The university’s chancellor is Azam Khan, Samajwadi Party leader and the Lok Sabha MP from Rampur, who faces 27 FIRs, lodged between July 13 and July 20 this year, over alleged land grab for the university’s expansion.
One of those FIRs has been lodged by the district administration over allegations of “usurping five hectares of river land”.
While Khan denied the allegations and maintained that the farmers have already received payments for the land they now claim is theirs, District Magistrate Aunjaneya Kumar Singh said the SP leader has forcefully acquired around 12 hectares belonging to farmers and around 5 hectares of public land near Kosi river.
“He has built a boundary wall, denying access to the people to Kosi river which is not allowed,” Singh told The Sunday Express. “He has also taken possession of a PWD guesthouse, which has now come under the university premises. I have received several complaints since February 2019 when I came to Rampur as DM. We have probed some complaints and registered cases against him.”
The District Magistrate also said that there are complaints about Khan allegedly misusing the state’s administrative and police machinery between 2003 and 2007, and between 2012 and 2017. The SP was in power in Uttar Pradesh in these two terms.
Twenty-five of these FIRs have been lodged by local farmers, who allege that Khan and former Circle Officer, City, Aaley Hasan forcibly took away their land in 2004 and made it part of the university campus. Hasan is now chief security officer of the university.
In 13 of the FIRs lodged on basis of complaints by the farmers, Hasan, former station-in-charge of Azim Nagar police station; Kushalveer Singh; and Azam Khan have been named. In 12 others, Khan and Hasan are named.
The FIRs have been lodged under IPC Sections 506 (criminal intimidation), 504 (insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 384 (extortion), 447 (criminal trespass), 342 (wrongful confinement), and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt).
Hamseen is wife of Yasin, one of the 25 farmers who have complained against Khan, a former state minister. Sitting in her courtyard, Hamseen said they have no money to get their three daughters married. “We are barely making ends meet. Our land was our only source of income. After it was taken away, we depend mostly on cattle for our livelihood. Our daughters now make kites to support the family,” she said.
Yasin has alleged in his complaint that he was kept in lock-up for two hours and threatened that he would be framed in false cases of narcotics smuggling and theft unless he gave up his land.
Nazakat, 47, who has five children, works in other people’s fields. “Today, I could not find any work. I will have enough to eat because my wife Saira keeps chickens and we recently sold one and got Rs 200. Otherwise, I depend completely on the daily wage work I do,” he said.
Nazakat said that he and his four brothers owned two-and-a-half bighas, which have been “usurped” by the university.
Denying the allegations, Azam Khan told The Sunday Express: “This land is around 3.75 bighas. The university has bought 350 acres in all. I have not taken the land, the Jauhar Trust has. A trust that buys 350 acres will not cheat for 3.75 bighas of land.”
He claimed that the allegations are coming since he won the Lok Sabha polls.
“These farmers lodged complaints earlier as well. They did not stand in court. Later, they submitted an affidavit apologising for the complaint,” he added.