Shazia Ilmi, a BJP Leader and also a pass out from Jamia Millia Islamia, accused the university of dropping her name from the list of speakers that were to speak at an event about triple talaq, on campus. The event was scheduled to take place on February 16, 2017, and was later postponed to February 28.
She expressed her discontent with the fact that it is only the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party, that are criticised for being intolerant. According to her, Jamia Millia Islamia and its students have been intolerant towards her, in this case.
I strongly agree with what Shazia has expressed. In fact, I am happy she does understand that it is important to practise the right to freedom of speech in a democracy. However, before we allow #IntolerantJamia to trend on Twitter and Facebook, we need to look into the facts around the controversy.
Fact # 1: The program was not being organised by Jamia Millia Islamia University, but by an organisation named Forum For Awareness of National Security, an organisation supported by the RSS. Therefore, the question of dropping her name from the list of speakers should be posed to the organisation and not the varsity.
Fact # 2: Shazia accused the students at Jamia Millia of not wanting anyone to speak at the institution. Some mainstream news portals ran the story without proper verification. Whereas, the students on campus who were attending the event denied the allegation. In fact, many people from Jamia, including both Muslim and Hindu students, lauded and shared pictures of the event being organised successfully.
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 for a while now. 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 was she silent all this while.
Moreover, there is a very strong opinion floating on campus that if in any case, the 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 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.
I find the fabrication of the controversy to meet the larger ongoing process by the Central government to target the university in a 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 in the news for its minority status. Also, in August 2016, there was a raid conducted by the 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 centre. 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!