ALIGARH: Police said Thursday they have so far not found any evidence to support the sedition charges levelled against 14 Aligarh Muslim University students after protests broke out on the campus earlier this week.
The AMU authorities suspended eight students late Wednesday night in connection with the protest during which a motorcycle allegedly belonging to a member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), BJP's youth wing, was set on fire.
The police had booked the students for sedition after BJYM activist Mukesh Lodhi filed a complaint, alleging that he was assaulted amid chants of ant-India and pro-Pakistan slogans on Tuesday.
BJP's students' wing ABVP had protested reported plans by AIMIM lawmaker Asaduddin Owaisi to visit the campus. The BYJM members held a separate demonstration against the visit, demanding that the MP should be banned from the campus. There were counter-protest then by other AMU students. Owaisi did not come to the university.
Senior Superintendent of Police Akash Kulhari said all the evidence secured so far on the reported incident at AMU Circle has not revealed anything to suggest sedition.
Police are collecting further evidence, including videos, and if they fail to get anything to substantiate the sedition charges, then it would be dropped, the SSP said.
He confirmed that all pieces of evidence, including video clippings of the clash at the university circle between AMU students and those belonging to the ABVP, have so far drawn a blank on this controversial issue.
The case of sedition and attempt to murder was filed on Tuesday evening on the basis of a written complaint by Lodhi, the Aligarh president of the BJYM.
In his complaint, Lodhi alleged that he was driving across the AMU Circle when these students surrounded him and launched a "murderous assault" while raising anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans.
When contacted, the AMU spokesman confirmed that Lodhi is the same person who had issued an ultimatum to the AMU Vice Chancellor last week warning him if land for constructing a temple on the campus is not allocated within the next 15 days, "then we will ourselves begin the construction".
When newspersons asked the SSP as to why 14 students of AMU were booked under sedition charges merely on the basis of a complaint by an outsider, he parried the question.
The SSP confirmed that the police are further preparing a list of 55 AMU students against whom non-bailable warrants would be issued shortly.
He said the police would then ask the university authorities to take disciplinary action against such students.
When asked as to why no FIR has been registered on the basis of the complaint filed by the AMU authorities and leaders of the university students' union, the SSP said, "We have asked the AMU authorities to file a single comprehensive complaint and we will file an FIR once we receive such a complaint."
When contacted, AMU spokesman Prof Shafey Kidwai said, "As far as we are concerned, we have not received any evidence to support the charge of sedition against the students."
Asked to explain the reason why AMU's complaints was yet to be registered even two days after the incident, the spokesman parried the question saying, "We have filed the written complaint and we are expecting that our FIR will also be lodged soon."
Protesting AMU Students Union (AMUSU) leaders said Thursday it was "ironic" that an FIR has been lodged on the basis of the complainant who has a "vested interest in disturbing the peace and law of the land" whereas there is no response to the complaint filed by a premier central university.
Meanwhile, the AMU authorities suspended eight university students in connection with Tuesday's violence on the campus. The suspended students have been ordered to remain outside the University campus pending inquiry. Those suspended are Ajay Singh (ABVP leader and a post-graduate student in the Faculty of Law, AMU), Imran Khan, Abdul Mabood, Maneesh Kumar, Pawan Jadon, Farhan Zuberi, Adil Khan and Aman Sharma.
The AMU has constituted a three-member inquiry committee to investigate the incidents of violence. The committee comprises Professor Rashid Umar, Dr Mohd Mohsin and Dr Rashid Ali.
Meanwhile, protesting AMU students, who have been boycotting classes, Thursday demanded that the police should take immediate action against those ABVP members who had "barged into" the AMU campus and had "deliberately provoked violence".