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14 AMU students face sedition charges after scuffle with Republic TV crew


Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh): Fourteen Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students, including their union chief, were booked under sedition charges after protests on the campus following reports of a planned visit by AIMIM lawmaker Asaduddin Owaisi, officials said Wednesday.

"On Tuesday, some AMU students allegedly had an altercation with a TV channel crew which had come to film the visit that ultimately did not take place," they said.

The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BYJM) members held a separate demonstration against the visit, demanding that the MP should be banned from the campus.

File image of Aligarh Muslim University building. Image courtesy: AMU website

"The students were booked under sedition charges after a complaint was filed by BJYM activist Mukesh Lodhi, alleging that he was assaulted amid chants of pro-Pakistan slogans by some students," police said.

Protesting the police action, a "class boycott" call has been given by the students' union.

"Security has also been beefed in the area and Rapid Action Force has been deployed around the campus amid other protests, including one in which a motorcycle belonging to an BJYM member was set on fire," a senior police officer said.

The main road leading to the university campus at IG Khan Crossing was closed by police as a precautionary measure. Official sources said internet services will also be off in city.

ABVP activists staged a protest near the Faiz Gate of the university after some media reports claimed that Owaisi was invited to address a function organised by the AMU Students' Union. They demanded that he should not be allowed to enter the campus. Owaisi, however, did not turn up.

An AMU spokesman said a TV channel team, which had come to cover the anticipated event, had an altercation with some students while they were filming inside the campus.

The spokesman said the channel had not sought permission from authorities for live coverage and when the university staff pointed this out, there was a heated exchange in which some students were also involved.

The media persons claimed they were roughed up by some students while they were filming on the campus and their camera was smashed.
Complaints were lodged at the Civil Lines Police Station by both the AMU authorities and the TV channel crew.

A complaint was also filed by BJYM members which alleged that they were beaten up near the Faiz Gate and a motorcycle, belonging to one of them, was set on fire.

It was not immediately clear if this incident was also related to Owaisi's visit.

Senior Superintendent of Police Akash Kulhari told PTI that a number of complaints were given by different groups at the Civil Lines police station and the police were in the process of filing the reports.

Meanwhile, a large group of students gathered at Bab-e-Syed Gate, demanding the suspension of Ajay Singh, a prominent ABVP leader who is a postgraduate student in the Faculty of Law. He is the grandson of BJP MLA Dalvir Singh.

Late Tuesday night, cases under sections 124-A (sedition), section 307 (attempt to murder) and eight other sections of the IPC were registered against 14 students, including the president of students' union Salman Imtiaz and vice president Huzaifa Aamir on the complaint of BJYM's Mukesh Lodhi.

He alleged that when he was driving across the AMU Circle, these students surrounded him and launched a "murderous assault" and raised pro-Pakistan slogans.

Meanwhile, police confirmed that two more complaints were received at Civil Lines police station on behalf of AMU students and AMU officials.

An official said these reports were being examined and FIR will be filed "after due investigation". AMU has issued an advisory to students, asking them "not to move out of campus as a precautionary measure".

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