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What actually happened at Jamia Millia Islamia — Shazia-BJP-RSS Controversy

The BJP-leader and also a pass-out from Jamia Millia Islamia, Shazia Ilmi accused Jamia Millia Islamia (A Central University) of dropping her name from the list of speakers that were to speak at an event about ‘Triple Talaq’ on campus which was scheduled to take place on 16th February 2017 and was later postponed to 28th February.

RSS in Jamia

Shazia in her statement said that this was a clear violation of her Right to freedom of speech and expression. Taking a dig at Jamia students she further expressed her discontent with the fact that it is only the ABVP (Right-wing BJP's Student Wing) that is criticized for being intolerant whereas in this case Jamia Millia Islamia and its students have been intolerant towards her.

I strongly agree with what Shazia has expressed, in fact I am happy she does understand that it is important to practice the Right to Freedom of Speech in a democracy. But before we allow the Hashtag Intolerant Jamia to trend on Twitter and Facebook, we need to look into the facts around the controversy.

Fact # 1: The program was not being organized by Jamia Millia Islamia University, but by an organization named FORUM FOR AWARENESS OF NATIONAL SECURITY (FANS) an RSS affiliated organization. Therefore the question of dropping her name from the list of speakers should be posed to the organization and not the varsity.

Fact # 2: Shazia accused the students at Jamia Millia Islamia to have created a ruckus on the campus to oppose the program. Some mainstream news portals have ran the story without verification. Whereas the students on campus who were attending the event denied the allegation. In fact many Jamia’ites including both Muslims and Hindu students lauded and shared pictures of the event being organized successfully.

(One may refer to the screenshots from Rahul Tiwari’s Wall, in which he appreciated the efforts of the university, he later deleted the post for reasons best known to him)

Fact # 3: Her name was dropped from the list of speakers long back, in fact the new banner with the revised dates and list of speakers was being circulated both online and offline all these days. Why was it that she waited all these days to spark the controversy?

Fact # 4: In the revised list of speakers, not just her, but BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi’s name was also dropped, I wonder why that was so, and why is she silent all this while.

Previous Controversial E-invite which used Jamia's Monogram without permission
Previous controversial E-invite which used Jamia's Monogram without permission

Moreover there is a very strong opinion floating on campus that if in any case Jamia administration is involved in cancelling her lecture, it has got nothing to do with the students. Students on campus are of the view that anyone and everyone must be allowed to express their perspective. This is evident by the fact that there was a good turnout on the day of the event and a healthy discussion did take place. Watch the below video:

I find the fabrication of the controversy to meet the larger ongoing process by the Government at the center to target the university in negative light. This is not for the first time that the ruling Government has gone with all guns against Jamia. Last year Jamia was dragged to news for its Minority status. Also in August 2016 there was a raid conducted by the IB and Delhi police In Jamia Hostels against which the students protested.

I wish to appeal to the larger student community not to get carried away with the ideologies be it left, right or center, instead apply logic and then dissect the happenings. One is certain to find a larger web out there with a target to dismantle one of the strongest force of opposition in the country – The Student Community!

Daud Arif is a Mass Communication student at Jamia Millia Islamia, he can be reached at daudarif94$gmail.com

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