Saurabh Sharma | Jun 10, 2018 | 5 min read
Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is once again at the centre of a controversy, this time after a student and some ex-students were booked by Uttar Pradesh police for posting a blasphemous picture, which created a furore on Facebook in the holy month of Ramzan.
AMU’s Nashra Ahmad, a student of B.A. (psychology), former students Fahad Zuberi, Omar Gazi, and Sushant Tank went for an outing on June 6 and shared a photograph on Facebook. The picture showed the boys in the picture having beer bottles with a caption: "Iftari with musical stalwarts of Aligarh Muslim University. By Allah's grace made three lapsed Sunni's have Madira tonight. ... Nara-E-tak-Beer. Kingfisher-Akbar, Kingfisher-Akbar... Uploaded by Tarek Fatah android."
After an outcry in the campus, Nadeem Ansari, former vice-president of Aligarh Muslim University Students Union (AMUSU), filed the case against them for hurting religious sentiments and causing harm to the religion through hate speech under section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code. Ansari met senior police officials and those of the university, demanding that a show-cause notice be issued to Nashra and the entry of the other accused be banned in the campus.
Accused students go into hiding
Nashra, meanwhile, has deactivated all her social media accounts and has released an apology video through her friends in the university, where she has condemned the incident and has apologised for hurting the feelings of the Muslim community. Now underground, Nashra told this reporter over phone that the post was made in jest and she did not consume liquor.
"The intention behind the post was never to hurt anyone's feeling or sentiments and it was shared just for fun. I did not post the picture on social media and the beer was neither in my hands nor in front of me. I was tagged by Bhole in the picture and I apologise for this and promise to never repeat it in the future," she said, adding that she has deactivated all her social media accounts after people started hurling abuses on social media and even complained to her family over this incident.
The JNU angle
She is afraid that the AMU authorities might take strict action against her. Ansari alleged that Bhole Vishwakarma, a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) who shared the controversial Facebook post initially, has been spreading caste-based hatred for the last two years and this time he crossed all his limits.
"He is a product of JNU and a communist. He has been indulging in insulting Islam and Hinduism since the last two years and now it has become his habit to insult the religion and spread hatred. Other boys who where there with him should have thought before holding beer bottles in their hands. I am no one to stop them but sharing such kind of pictures on social media and too in the holy month of Ramazan has caused immense damage to our religion and this has also affected the environment of our university," Ansari told this reporter.
Meanwhile, a delegation led by Abu Bakr Bin Safdar, the one who raised this issue first, met the proctor of the university and demanded strict action.
"These people are not so young to not know the difference between freedom of expression and spreading hatred. Students of the university are not going to tolerate this and we are going to show them the door. This act of theirs will not be tolerated," Abu Bakr said, alleging that the accused are “serial offenders and self-proclaimed atheists”.
"These folks have been calling us and requesting to withdraw the FIR but we are not all going to compromise. We can consider the case of Nashra but that is going to be the decision of every student of the university and not mine alone," he added.
AMU’s Cultural Education Centre (CEC) has also banned all of them from all clubs of the varsity.
AMU to take strict action
AMU spokesperson Shafey Kidwai said he was unaware about this incident and came to know through the proctor of the university.
"Right now, I do not know the magnitude of this incident. The varsity will take stern action against every person who has caused a damage to the reputation of our respectable institution and above all the insult of Islam," he said.
Proctor Mohsin Khan informed that a show-cause notice has been served to Nashra Ahmad and the officials are contemplating to impose a ban on the entry of the accused. Nashra’s batchmate Yasir Khan said the varsity, police and those who have complained against her should once talk to her and know her stand before jumping to any conclusion.
"I know her for the last one year and she is a rational thinker... She is very young and strict action like arrest or suspension could ruin her career and life. I think her intention was not to hurt anyone's sentiments," he said requesting everyone to think about Nashra and her family.
What has happened is wrong but she has begged for mercy and people should forgive her for this, Khan appealed. Fahad Zuberi, another ex-student named in the FIR, has also sought mercy and requested to withdraw the FIR. He refused to comment anything further, saying that his words can be twisted and used against him.
Javed Khan, station house officer of Civil Lines police station, said the investigation was underway and they would also consult the varsity administration as the matter is related to faith and career of students.
Earlier in the first week of May, a controversy had broken out in AMU over Jinnah's portrait but the matter got defused with time.
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