Fourteen students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have been booked under sedition charges in a First Information Report filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha after a brawl between AMU students and Republic TV.
AMU Public Relations Officer Omar S Peerzada told Huffpost India over the phone that while the complaint against his students was filed by ‘outsiders’, the university administration was looking into the issue and action would be taken accordingly. He said that AMU had also registered a complaint with the police.
This comes a day after the crew of news channel Republic TV got into a brawl with students on Tuesday. Students and university administration claim that Republic TV was shooting on campus without permission, while Arnab Goswami, editor of the news channel, alleged that media was banned from AMU.
The brawl took place during a Aligarh Muslim University Students Union (AMUSU) function where the media was not invited. The AMUSU was supposed to brief the media after the function.
Peerzada said, “There are some rules and regulations of a university. When a media house wants to cover something in our campus, they have to get permission and we usually send someone from the proctor office along with them for these very reasons. Where was there permission?”
In press release on his Facebook profile, AMUSU president Mohammed Salman Imtiaz alleged that the altercation between student and the TV crew happened when the crew from the Republic TV “was recording its reporters saying that ‘AMU is a terrorist campus’.”
The Republic TV crew also allegedly claimed that AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi was on campus.
Imtiaz wrote in his Facebook post, “When the AMU students challenged the said media reporters on its manner of questions and asked them to seek permission from the relevant authorities of AMU, the reporters heckled the students and the female reporter threatened to frame false sexual harassment charges against the students.”
Calling the charges of sedition “false and fabricated”, Imtiaz said, “The charges of sedition and others are frivolous and based on falsehood and fraud. The FIR symbolises extreme repression by the state.”
Peerzada told Huffpost India, “The TV crew continued to record even after the university staff asked them to stop.” Imtiaz alleged that the Republic TV crew “continued with its aggression. This led to the disruption in the campus.”
Imtiaz also alleged that “associates of BJP, many of whom were not students including their Youth leader Mukesh Lodhi, wielded weapons and challenged the life and security of the students.”
Even as the AMUSU president rejected the accusations against the students, Peerzada said that the university was working with the district administration over the issue.
“We believe in the rule of law. We have been fully cooperating with the SSP and DM who are aware of the situation,” Peerzada said.
Journalists of the Republic TV who were present at the situation have, however, denied the allegations.
Republic TV staffer Nalini Sharma wrote on Twitter:
Republic TV meanwhile broadcast a story claiming the crew were “manhandled” by the staff of AMU.
Senior Superintendent of Police Akash Kulhari told PTI that a number of complaints were given by different groups at the Civil Lines police station and the police were still in the process of filing these reports.