New Delhi: Students and alumni from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in Bombay, Delhi and other campuses have come out in support of former IITian Sharjeel Imam, who has been absconding since a sedition case was filed against him last week.
Imam, a 2011 IIT Bombay graduate who is now a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, allegedly made “inflammatory” statements during an anti-CAA protest. His alleged comments led to registration of sedition cases against him in several states, including Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
In one of the videos, which is from a protest at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Sharjeel talks about how CAA-NRC will severely hurt “the Hindu and Bengali Muslims in Northeast”. “Assam aur India katke alag ho jaaye, tabhi ye humari baat sunenge (Only once India and Assam are cut off from each other will they listen to us),” he can be heard saying in the video.
In a statement released Tuesday, the IITians who have come out in his support have said Sharjeel is “being victimized”, and that a small portion of his 40-minute speech has been “cherry-picked” to make a case against him.
Statement signed by 148 IITians
“He is being victimized for a statement during an anti-CAA speech delivered in Aligarh Muslim University in the ongoing protest. They have cherry-picked a few minutes of his speech which is over 40 minutes long and are misrepresenting what he said to make them appear hateful and objectionable,” read the statement signed by 148 IITians.
“Sharjeel is a scholar and he understands the implications of his words, and is sensible and responsible enough to not incite violence or advocate any anti-India movement or acts…”, the statement added.
“…he can be seen saying in the same speech towards the end ‘We must remain non-violent during our protests’,” it pointed out. “The complete 41 minute video can be easily found on social media by searching ‘Sharjeel Imam full speech at Aligarh Muslim University’.”
“We, the students and alumni of IIT, stand in solidarity with Sharjeel Imam and demand the revocation of all half-baked media reports being circulated against him; and that the whole of his speech must be considered before forming any opinion as to what he said and the context in which he made the statements in question,” the students and the alumni said in the statement.
They also condemned the “Islamophobic behaviour of media and police against the Anti-CAA protesters”.
The 148 signatories include current students and alumni from IITs in Mumbai, Delhi, Kharagpur, Guwahati and Srinagar. Over 100 students from Jamia Millia Islamia, AMU and other state universities have also signed the letter.
Meanwhile, two persons, including Sharjeel Imam’s younger brother, have been picked up in Bihar by the police investigating the sedition case against him.
Sharjeel Imam is allegedly one of the organisers of the ongoing protest at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi. The protesters, however, have distanced themselves from his comments, saying “no single person” can be called the organiser.