After examining around 40 videos, the Aligarh police decided to drop sedition charge against 14 AMU students, including the current and former office-bearers of the Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union (AMUSU), as they could not find evidence of the accused raising anti-national slogans on the campus on February 12.
The police, however, will probe other charges against the students, including promoting enmity between groups on the grounds of religion, caste, etc. AMU students have been staging protest on the campus, pressing for various demands, including withdrawing of sedition charge against some students. “We have so far not found any proof of sedition while analysing around 40 video footages of the incident. Some of the video footages were obtained from media houses. Hence, we decided to drop sedition charge from the case. A police team is verifying other charges mentioned in the FIR,” said Ashutosh Dwivedi, additional superintendent of police, city (Aligarh).
Read | What is sedition, what isn’t
Other charges include 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language), 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (rioting) and 153-B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration). No complaint has been filed against BJYM leaders. AMU has suspended its eight students citing indiscipline and misconduct.
The varsity administration formed a three-member committee headed by deputy proctor, Professor Rashid Umar, to probe into the incident over which two more FIRs have been filed. Other two members of the committee are Dr Mohammad Mohsin and Dr Rashid Ali.
On February 12, a protest was held on the campus against a planned visit of AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi when AMU students allegedly had an altercation with the journalists of a news channel, police said. The students and Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) workers clashed outside the campus, leading to arson and damage of vehicles. During violence, the students allegedly raised anti-national slogans, added police.
Students demand FIR, police want evidence
Students of the Aligarh Muslim University have been staging protests on the campus since February 13 demanding FIR on the three complaints they filed accusing BJYM leaders and workers of attacking them, while police have been demanding evidence. The students claim police lodged two separate FIRs against them on complaints of BJYM and BJP leaders on charges, including sedition, without any evidence. AMU Students’ Union vice-president, Hamza Sufiyan, who is leading the protest and a named accused in an FIR, said, “The District Magistrate and SSP of Aligarh came to the campus and asked us to end the protest. When we demanded an FIR on our complaint, the SSP asked us to provide evidence of attack on them.” Aligarh SSP Akash Kulhari told The Indian Express, “We have lodged an FIR on the complaint of AMU administration. We will not keep lodging FIRs.”
On the complaint of Mukesh Lodhi, BJYM Aligarh district president, an FIR was lodged against 14 named and several unidentified AMU students on various charges, including sedition. Police have not made any arrest in the case.
AMUSU vice-president Humza Sufyan said, “Students have been staging protest demanding the dropping of sedition charge in the case. We have submitted three complaints to the police but no action has been taken so far… There is demand to revoke the suspension of four of the eight students. We also need an assurance from the AMU administration that no further action will be taken on these students.”
M Shafey Kidwai, AMU public relation in charge, said, “Several rounds of meeting were held between the AMU administration and students but nothing concrete has come out so far.” “The three-member committee is recording statements of students and employees apart from examining the CCTV footages. We will share the findings of the committee with the police,” said Kidwai.
BJP’s Aligarh district spokeperson and former student of AMU, Nishit Sharma, lodged an FIR against seven persons, including the current and former office-bearers of the AMUSU and several unidentified students at the Civil Lines police station on charges of attempt to murder and rioting. The named accused includes former AMUSU vice-president Nadeem Ansari and former secretary Nabeel Usmani, and honorary secretary Huzaifa Amir, said police.
Nishit said, “On February 12, I went to AMU with others on getting information that Hindu students were being assaulted there. Miscreants attacked us with weapons and opened fire. One of my associates, Manoj Sharma, was injured.”
The fourth case was lodged by AMU’s security officer, Azeem Akhtar, against five persons, including AMU student Ajay Singh and BJP leader Nishit Sharma, on charges of voluntarily causing hurt and rioting at the Civil Lines police station, said police.
Station House Officer, Civil Lines police station, Vinod Kumar said, “Both FIRs were lodged two days after the incident. The investigation is on and so far no arrest has been made.”
On February 12, police lodged an FIR against students and a security officer of the AMU on a complaint by a news channel reporter. In the complaint, the reporter said that she and her colleague were assaulted by security staff and AMU students when they tried to enter the campus. No one has been arrested, police said.