This letter has been written by the author as a response to the previously published open letter by Mohammad Sajjad on Sharjeel Imam.
Dear Mohammad Sajjad
Sharjeel Imam is on top stories of news these days, amidst all this, your fatherly letter of concern comes to my attention covering Imam like no news channel has done till now. Once this garners more public attention, I am sure you would be called on television debates over Imam and the ongoing trial. Though there is a difference between a letter of concern and character assassination. The person present is not available to defend the allegations put by you. You have given Sharjeel’s academic bio and when one investigates your bio it is evident that you are academic rivals. Your letter is not addressed to Sharjeel but to the general public, supporting the whole narrative built by the right-wing media in a sophisticated tone.
This is a funny paradox as you label Imam as an agent of Hindutva and show concerns over him becoming an Islamist. Your open declaration of snapping all contacts with Sharjeel hints that you too fear for something which leads you to make a statement like this where somewhere you want this to be evident that you are not in touch with Imam.
The kind of narrative that you have used does not suit a university professor like you. I wonder how being in the field of research you put caps on ideations and limit the expansion of it according to the comfort of your thoughts.
As far as the opinion piece on Faiz is concerned, we should remember and I hope you too agree that poetry belongs to the author only till it is in the phase of writing but once published, it belongs to the reader and leaves scope and freedom for interpretations. You can write your intellectual interpretation. Faiz must be twisting in his grave. To our rescue Faiz’ “Bol ke lab azad hain tere” is here.
What is wrong if a website catalogues Muslim freedom fighter exclusively? We have exclusive websites which talks on specific subjects. This again brings me in the loop of confusion whether Hindutva is your concern or Muslim identity or somewhere you want to create a confusing amalgamation which puts one in a status of privilege, where one takes sides as per convenience.
It is irresponsible of a university teacher to make haywire statements on hearsay and put some one’s character in suspicion. You have made big statements supported by the authenticity of “we are told”, what is the credibility of your source? You are a professor of history at AMU, why don’t you ask the university authorities on the kind of access Sharjeel got at your university. It would be great if you could throw investigative light on the police brutality that took place at AMU, if not legitimate then based on your intuitions. Your anonymous sources might help in the investigation of state-sponsored violence that took place at AMU.
I just hope that somebody is not backing you to write this because I don’t expect this from a person in your position who is focusing on character assassination rather than critical academic discourse. Why would the Hindutva regime slap charges of sedition and UAPA against someone who is on their payroll?
Your letter leaves its reader in limbo. There is already so much of clutter and confusion everywhere, we don’t need more so please refrain. People can censor their thoughts according to their concerns. It’s objectionable to bring the private and family matters of Imam in public domain when it is not needed. Your letter attacks on some personal affairs of Imam and one can sense that you have been stalking him.
I, as a concerned citizen, question your position as an academician who seems too reluctant for one on one debate and has used the opportunity of Sharjeel’s absence to add to the hate-mongering against him garnished with occasional apologies in between.
BY F. ASHFAQ
(Author is a student of Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.)