Speeches land Muslim students in trouble, politicians get away
Delhi, Assam and UP Police have booked a student of JNU, another from AMU for making incendiary speeches. But politicians have got away far more lightly for their inflammatory and divisive statements
How seriously should we take a public speech or a tweet? More specifically, how seriously should one react to a few sentences from a long speech, say a 40-second audio clip from a speech that covered half an hour?
There are other questions that need an answer. Should politicians and political leaders be treated differently for their public speeches?
The questions have gained currency following Delhi and UP Police booking Sharjeel Imam, a computer science graduate currently studying in JNU, and Faizul Hasan, a former President of AMU Students’ Union.
Imam is accused of calling upon anti-CAA protestors to cut off roads going to Assam and put up more road blocks in Delhi to force the Government to listen to them. In a speech apparently delivered at AMU, he is heard urging Muslims to use their anger ‘more productively’. While Shaheen Bagh protestors have denounced and distanced themselves from him, the Indian Express reported on Sunday that he had claimed that he had merely asked for a ‘Chakka Jaam’ to intensify the stir.
Meanwhile, Faizul Hasan, a former President of AMU Students’Union, has also been booked by police for allegedly asserting that Muslim youth were reaching the end of their patience over majoritarian politics and anti-Muslim policies of the Government.
While Imam is charged with sedition, Hasan has been charged under section 155-A of the IPC for trying to stoke communal passions.
A prominent member of the AMU students’ coordination committee, Hasan apparently concluded his speech by saying, “ “Ever since 1947, Indian Muslims have been showing utmost patience. We have never thought of breaking up our country or causing it any harm. It should, however, be borne in mind that we belong to a community which, if it decides to do so, has the resolve to destroy anything which comes in its way”.
In the same address, however, Hasan had also pointed to the series of provocative statements made by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and other senior BJP leaders and said that they posed a threat to the unity of the country and were both communal and highly divisive.
Hasan ironically is regarded as a moderate leader. Since December 15 last year, he on several occasions, intervened to calm agitated anti-CAA protesters, not just at the AMU campus but in other parts of the city as well.
When this correspondent reached out to him, Hasan said, “if you see Indian history from 1857 to the present, Indian Muslims have been ready to offer their heads for the sake of the country and even today we are ready to do so if we are treated with respect, justice and love.”
“I ask Yogi and Shah to test our loyalty with the call of love and you will see how we will be ready to join the battle against anyone. We bear no hatred towards any government but this continuous onslaught of divisive and religious politics must end”, he added.
When this writer questioned him about allegations of objectionable slogans raised at some assemblies and the threat of Muslim radicalisation, he responded by saying, “I have strongly objected to such sloganeering and while I am at the helm of affairs I am not going to allow any space to such divisive politics because it would completely derail our nationwide anti-CAA movement”.
For the record, police and security personnel have been far more violent than anti-CAA protestors, though persuasive skills of several police officers in Aligarh helped keep the situation from escalating.
But while BJP, NDA Government and police single out young Muslim students and scholars for some of their intemperate or indiscreet statements, politicians like the BJP candidate in Delhi, Kapil Mishra, the Home Minister Amit Shah himself and the Uttar Pradesh chief minister are getting away with, some might say, with even more inflammatory, provocative and divisive statements.