Kanpur, Jan 3 (IANS) IIT-Kanpur is apparently caught in a bind over its decision to order a probe into whether poem “Hum dekhenge”, written by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, is anti-Hindu or not.
The immense outrage over the IIT-K decision has forced the institute’s administration to announce that the probe is “much wider in its scope and relates to several allegations around a protest march last month by students at the campus, and that the poem and its contents are just one aspect of it”.
IIT-Kanpur’s Deputy Director, Professor Manindra Agarwal, in a statement, said: “A section of the media has been reporting that IIT-Kanpur has set up a committee to decide if a poem by the poet Faiz is anti-Hindu or not.
“This is misleading and the reality is that the institute has received a complaint from multiple sections of the community saying that during a protest march taken out by students on the 17th December, a certain poem was read and then some social media posts were made that were inflammatory. We received complaints from other sections that during the march, a group has tried to block the march. So the institute has set up a committee to see if the complaints are genuine and what action should be taken.”
A probe committee was set up by IIT-Kanpur after a complaint over students reciting the poem before a solidarity march in the institute on December 17, for their counterparts at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia.
Faiz, the Urdu poet from Pakistan’s Sialkot – a communist and atheist – was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1963. He used religious metaphors in his poetry to attack the establishment.
Faiz was jailed several times for his revolutionary writings. He wrote “Hum Dekhenge… (We will see)” – one of his best remembered compositions – in New York in 1979.
It was a mark of protest against Pakistani dictator Zia-ul-Haq, who declared himself the President of the country after overthrowing the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government. In 1986, the song assumed an iconic status after Pakistani singer Iqbal Bano sung the poem of defiance against the martial law in Lahore in front of a huge crowd.
Professor Agarwal, when asked specifically about why a peaceful protest by students was being probed, said: “This is because we received a complaint a few days later, where a few videos and social media posts were attached. It can be said that improper language was used. In the video it was shown that one of the students had read a poem, before the march, of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. One of its interpretations could be anti-Hindu. The complaint was in this regard and that’s why an inquiry committee was formed.”
His statement establishes that IIT is probing the recitation of the Faiz poem and statement is merely to dilute the furore over the issue.
Eminent writers like Javed Akhtar and Gulzar have voiced their disapproval of calling Faiz’s poem anti-Hindu.
The complaint against the students was filed by Dr Vashi Mant Sharma, who is part of the ‘INSPIRE’ faculty at the IIT-Kanpur. A government document says the ‘INSPIRE’ scheme has been designed to provide ‘contractual research positions to young achievers for independent research and emerge as a leader in future science & technology’.
Sharma is also the ‘mentor” for a web portal called “Agniveer” that lists work against ‘conversions’ on its website very prominently. On his personal website, Sharma describes the December 17 incident and says that he confronted the students taking out the protest march inside IIT-Kanpur on the day.
“I knew the poem. So I objected instantly. A few others joined me too. We outshouted the mob of 300. Since then, everybody is teaching us the context of these revolutionary lines,” Sharma said.