Saturday, July 3, 2010

Al-Qaida to Pakistan: AMU’s tryst with CCTV

I never thought my stint with Investigative Journalism will be so thrilling and blood racing phenomenon. Someone said Charity begins at home and I followed with my inquest into some mindless exercises with a view that there are so many loopholes in the existing story. And bingo! Today I have accessed to some of the “secret” documents which only vindicated my stand.
Long back in March I first criticized the installation of CCTV at AMU at crores of Rupees in a post to AMU discussion forums on yahoo “Whether AMU Students are worst than Maoist?” terming it as draconian surveillance imposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi in connivance with AMU administration. My contention was when already several Govt. & Media reports are there about the possible Maoist presence in universities like JNU, Jadavpur University, Osmania University etc why then AMU became the first institution in the country to be with such hi-tech surveillance mechanism. Many Old Boys pounced on me as usually by quoting examples of the west and with vague arguments as only those who are criminals might fear CCTV but I smelled something fishy in the whole story(My question was who is watching the watchers?) where AMU administration maintained that it is only for the safety and security of the staff and it is completely in-house mechanism. But the Vice-Chancellor agreed thankfully in the news “You are being watched” published in the Indian Express dated 18.4.2010(page 12 & 13) wherein he said, “ The initiative to upgrade the security came from the Union Home Ministry after VC lodge was burnt in 2007”. But was it only VC lodge or large scale student vandalism in 2007 which led to an unfortunate sine die for such arrangement? Is it simply the local phenomenon of AMU and surroundings that led Union Home Ministry to interfere in the security of a single Muslim University in such unprecedented way? I was only coming closer to the answers with each such questions.
In one of the TOP SECRET documents (written in Hindi) sent to the State Home Secretary, UP by the then SSP & DM of Aligarh vide ST/SSP-82/07 dated December 4, 2007 the said officials state in the Page no.2 that as students from Kashmir are studying at AMU so its possible that separatists & terrorists might always visit the campus. The said officials also went on to state in the same section that as International students from Bangladesh, Palestine and African Countries often select this University, the presence of Internationally sponsored terrorism cant be overlooked. So in that letter the said top Officials of Aligarh for the long-term(short-term proposals were there also) security arrangement proposed for CCTV cameras and other policies which would turn it in a Police state and every activity of student would be under the surveillance of the Government machinery. It was not the local phenomenon but the historic past and the prevalent suspicion about my alma mater led these top officials suggest such hi-tech surveillance as long term arrangement after they got golden opportunity in the sine die of 2007.
In another SECRET letter by P.K.Mishra, Director in the Internal Security (IS) Division, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India to the DGP, Uttar Pradesh & The Vice-Chancellor, AMU vide No. I.11034/1/2007-IS-IV dated 18 October, 2007 minutes of two meetings were attached for information and necessary action. The first meeting was held by the Special Secretary (IS Division, MHA) on 27.9.2007 which was attended by the DG, UP Police, DG CISF, Joint Secretary(IS), Joint Secretary(P), Joint Secretary M/o HRD, Joint Director, Intelligence Bureau and Vice-Chancellor, AMU along with Registrar & Proctor. Interestingly in this meeting the Officials decided in Section 3(v) that “An Officer should be detailed in the University to hear and solve the grievances of the students”. We student are in darkness about such person till date. Here these officials also chalked out a detailed Security plan for strict surveillance on the students.
The Second Minutes were of the Meeting Convened by the HRD Minister Mr.Arjun Singh on 29.10.2007 which was attended by 1. Mr. R.P.Agarwal, Secretary, MHRD(Higher Education), 2. Mr.Sunil Kumar, Joint Secretary, MHRD( Higher Education), 3. Mr. Goel, PS to Hon’ble Minister of HRD and our 4. Prof.P.K.Abdul Azis, Vice-Chancellor, AMU. Some of the strangest and highly despicable facts were recorded in the minutes and I am at complete shock how the Vice-Chancellor raised no objection about it. However there are some interesting observations in the minutes as “Interaction with the students to be given top priority. They should be weaned away from teachers who are misguiding them. Teachers to be identified and action taken.” The Minutes contained some highly-objectionable sentences like,
“The Chance of terrorists/ Al-Qaida link on the incidence of violence need to be examined in depth”
“The visit of Pakistani Journalist and his meeting in the University be reported in details”
“Students getting admitted in a surreptitious manner need to be looked into”
So the sine die in 2007 after the murder of Mazhar Naeem followed the incidence of massive violence led the Ministry of HRD to point finger at the possible association of terrorists/Al-Qaida with the local goons and student leaders of AMU which they felt “need to be examined in depth”. Shockingly the University was asked to report the “visit of the Pakistani Journalist and his meeting in the University” in the light of that sine die also. I have always maintained this fact that the outside world even till date suspects the association of AMU with terrorists or Pakistan (this meeting had given us International status with Al-Qaida), and such critical evaluation from the Ministry of HRD of the student violence at AMU I am sure could not be witnessed in case of any other university. While Home Ministry sponsored the installation of CCTV at AMU making it the single university in India having hi-tech surveillance and Vice-Chancellor endorsed it as in his words it is critical for the security of students and teachers, we students only asked “Are we terrorists”?
In light of the facts and Minutes of the Meeting with top officials mentioned above, I have certain questions to ask the Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor,
1. Why being the father of this institution you did not object the mentioning of Al-Qaida to be associated with the students’ violence at AMU in the meeting with Minister of HRD and officials from HRD? This is pertinent that the student violence happened at AMU have some local dynamics and this is not worse as its being associated with Al-Qaida? Would the Minister of HRD question the same in case of any student violence vis-a-vis Allahbad or Jadavpur University?
2. Why you kept silent when they went on to emphasize the visit of a Pakistani Journalist at my alma mater in the light of Students Violence in 2007 which only reflect their mindset to associate this country with our institution at any instance? Many Pakistani journalists or students visit India, visit Universities in Delhi, Kolkata or Mumbai but would Minister of HRD would ask those universities to report the same?
3. Why you did not protest of such stereotype suspicions about my university and therefore in the end you happily accepted their long term security plan of installing CCTV and today you defend it as important security for students and staff?

My suspension order has mentioned about my critical writings on yahoogroups on the installation of CCTV. I am suspicious that whether the advice to suspend me on frivolous grounds has come from Mr.Sunil Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of HRD who in the same light is his letter to Shri D.Diptivilasa, Joint Secretary (Internal Security Division), Ministry of Home Affairs vide D.No 3-12/2007-Desk(U) dated July 21, 2008 asked them even then to be watchful on the students who “have started speaking against the security measures enforced in the University”? May be its 2010, but Mr. Sunil Kumar and others must have so much stake involved in the security arrangement. Today the Proctor Office is literally denying me in spite of the written communications to provide me evidences along with the Charge-sheet to substantiate the allegations against me so that I can make an informed and full defence in the Disciplinary Committee which can be construed only as denial of fair trial which is the right of any human in a civilized society.
I am sure of one fact after reading all these letters, minutes, reports to upgrade the security at AMU that my suspension and an expected rustication (denying me fair trial of which I think even my detractors are great advocates) is due to some order from any top authority of Government suspicious of our alma mater in front of whom our AMU officials are silent, who want to impose thought policing and silence those “speaking against the security measures”. A teacher often laments here at the forums that a former Vice-Chancellor once said to the media, “AMU is bristling with ISI agents” and still people did not react.
Be happy sir, we are not restricted to our neighbours only. We have gone International now with this minute of meeting (can be accessed by media anyhow) between Ministry of HRD and our Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor wherein it states, “Chance of terrorists/ Al-Qaida link.”

1 comment:

  1. well said adil...
    keep up ur spirit nd keep going...