- Charges against 14 students to be dropped in case of no evidence: Cops
- Eight students have been suspended by the university pending inquiry
- BJP leader claims he and his associates were shot at by AMU students
A day after filing a sedition case against 14 students of Aligarh Muslim University, the Uttar Pradesh police today said there is no primary evidence against them and if the accusation cannot be justified, the charges will be dropped. The case -- filed on Tuesday following a complaint by a BJP youth wing leader -- has triggered a political row, with the opposition leaders accusing the state's BJP government of bias.
Mukesh Kumar Lodhi had alleged that he was attacked outside the university on Tuesday. The students beat him up after seeing BJP stickers on his vehicle, he said. They also shot at him and his associates, and shouted anti-India, pro-Pakistan slogans, his complaint read.
But no slogans can be seen in the video evidence he submitted, the police said. "If there is no evidence, sedition charges would be dropped," an officer told the media.
"We are not so much casual that we will sustain such charges against students if there is no evidence. We will absolutely drop it. But we need to be confirmed that there is no evidence to back this charge," said Aligarh's senior police officer Akash Kulhari.
The police action had drawn widespread criticism from the opposition. Calling it an example of "state terror", he state's key opposition leader Mayawati had called it "condemnable".
Accusing the state of freely using the controversial law against sedition, Mehbooba Mufti, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted: "Expected. But it does raise pertinent questions: 1) Was UP police in collusion with mediapersons who created a ruckus in AMU? 2) From JNU to AMU, why are students being targeted? Is it because they are educated enough not to fall for divisive politics?"
The alleged attack onMukesh Kumar Lodi took place on the same day as another altercation took place between a group of students and the crew of a television channel. The students and university officials had stopped the crew of Republic TV from shooting inside university premises without permission.
According to the case filed by the TV journalist, the TV crew alleged that they were manhandled and threatened and then thrown out of the campus by the students.
The University later suspended eight students. Extra security was placed in and around the campus as tempers rose over the use of the anti-sedition law and a motorcycle was set on fire. The bike belonged to a member of the ABVP -- the student body affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP's ideological mentor.
There have been several run-ins between the students and ABVP members over the last couple of years. The last clash took place in May over the removal of a portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah from the University's student union hall. Three students were injured and the police had to use force to quell the violence.