Police in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh said on Thursday that the sedition charges pressed on 14 Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students might be dropped since there is no primary evidence against them.
A sedition case was registered against 14 AMU students following a complaint by a member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Wednesday a day after a fracas in the campus that followed a tiff between students and the crew of a news channel.
Cases under sections 124-A (sedition), section 307 (attempt to murder) and eight other sections of the IPC were registered against the students, including president of AMU students’ union Salman Imtiaz, on a complaint by Mukesh Lodhi.
Lodhi reportedly alleged that the students raised pro-Pakistan slogans and launched a “murderous assault” on him near the AMU circle.
But the police reportedly said that no alleged sloganeering can be seen in the video evidence submitted by Lodhi.
“If there is no evidence, sedition charges dropped,” an officer told the media.
The sedition charge was criticised by opposition leaders from the state and beyond.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati condemned the FIR against the students calling it an example of “state terror”.
In a tweet, former Jammu-Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti slammed the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh and raised questions on the “targeting” of students from JNU to AMU.
“Expected. But it does raise pertinent questions: 1) Was UP police in collusion with mediapersons who created a ruckus in AMU? 2) From JNU to AMU, why are students being targeted? Is it because they are educated enough not to fall for divisive politics?” she tweeted on Wednesday.
Expected. But it does raise pertinent questions:
1) Was UP police in collusion with mediapersons who created a ruckus in AMU?
2) From JNU to AMU, why are students being targeted? Is it because they are educated enough not to fall for divisive politics? https://t.co/uTH6zq8X85
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) February 14, 2019
Reports say that the fracas at AMU began when a team from Republic TV came to cover an event to which AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi had been reportedly invited.
The team, according to an AMU spokesman, had an altercation with some students while they were filming inside the campus.
According to the University authorities, the channel did not have the permission for coverage.
While the students accused the TV channel crew of making objectionable remarks on the University, the channel claimed that its team was roughed up by the students and their camera was smashed.
Both AMU authorities and the TV channel crew lodged complaints at the Civil Lines Police Station.
As the tiff between students and TV crew escalated, clashes erupted in other parts of the University campus.
In their complaint, ABVP alleged that a motorcycle belonging to one of their members was set on fire. Activists of the students’ group were protesting against the reported invitation to Owaisi.
Following the registration of the FIR, Hamza Sufyan, AMU students’ union vice-president, said that they are ready to present themselves for arrest if any of the charges against them is proved.