New Delhi: The committee launched by IIT Kanpur to inquire into a complaint against the reading of Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’ on campus on December 17 has said that the recitation was “unsuitable to the time and place”.
According to a report in the Indian Express, the committee, which was launched in January to look into a complaint, found the role of the five teachers and six students, who participated in the protest showing solidarity with the students of Jamia Millia Islamia after the attack on students on December 15, 2019, “to be less than desirable” and recommended that the institute “counsel” them.
The six-member committee was formed after Dr Vashi Mant Sharma, a teacher at IIT-Kanpur, registered a complaint alleging that the poem hurts his religious sentiments and was “communal“. The complaint was provoked by two lines from the poem that was read: “Jab arz-e-Khuda ke Ka’abe se, sab buutt uthwaae jaayenge/ Hum ahl-e-safa mardood-e-haram, masnad pe bithaaye jaayenge/ Sab taaj uchhale jaayenge, sab takht giraaye jaayenge (From the abode of God, when the icons of falsehood will be removed/ When we, the faithful, who have been barred from sacred places, will be seated on a high pedestal/ When crowns will be tossed, when thrones will be brought down)”.
Sharma previously told the Indian Express that the poem referred to “the invasion of India by Mughals” and hurt his “religious feelings”.
The committee’s chairperson and deputy director Manindra Agarwal said that given the time and place, “it [recitation of Faiz’s poem] was not the most suitable thing to say”. “The person who recited that (poem) agreed with this perspective and wrote a note saying that he regrets (it) in case anybody’s feelings were hurt. So that matter was closed,” Agarwal said.
Agarwal also said that the panel found the poem unsuitable because it “was a volatile environment”. “People with different thought processes and different perspectives were there, (and were) agitated. One should not do things that could agitate people even further. In a normal, day-to-day situation, I can do many things, which, in a volatile situation, I should not,” he said and added that the committee did not go into “the interpretation of the poem”.
Agrawal had previously said that, “The video suggests that the poem provokes anti-Hindu sentiments.”
Since the controversy at IIT-Kanpur, Faiz’s poem, ‘Hum Dekhenge’, has grown into a staple protest song.
The committee also criticised the five teachers and six students for their decision to go ahead with the protest march even after permission for it was withdrawn from IIT Kanpur.
“The institute had informed the people (responsible for organising the march) around 11 am or 12 noon that day that permission had been withdrawn by the institute and also that Section 144 had been imposed by the city administration. Yet this information was not communicated to the students at large, who continued to believe that the march was going to take place at 2 pm,” said Agarwal.
He also added that despite knowing that Section 144 had been imposed and permission for the protest had been revoked, several faculty members went ahead and participated in the march. He also claimed that several people created “distasteful videos” and put up “misleading portrayal of facts on social media”. “These were (some of the) actions that were out of line and were identified by the committee,” he said.