The former principal of Indore’s Government Law College — who was “forced to resign” from the principal’s post and was suspended as a faculty member following a complaint by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad last month — has now appealed to Madhya Pradesh governor Mangubhai C. Patel to revoke his suspension, calling it “unjust and unfair”.
While Inamur Rehman faced disciplinary action, he and four others were also booked for promoting enmity between different groups following a massive protest on campus. The protesters had accused Mr. Rahman of promoting ‘love jihad’ and only recruiting members of a particular faith.
At the centre of the row was the presence of a book titled Collective Violence and Criminal Justice System, whose contents allegedly include “objectionable matter against the Hindu community and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which encourages religious fundamentalism”, according to the protesters.
Mr. Rahman had denied these charges and maintained that the book was bought in 2014, before he joined the college [in 2018] or took over as the principal . However, a seven-member committee that probed the matter on December 9 concluded that he had failed to take necessary action to check indiscipline by other faculty members and was negligent in discharging his duty of maintaining a harmonious atmosphere on campus. Based on this, it was concluded that he had violated the provisions of Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1965 and he was suspended.
In his letter to the Governor dated January 19, Mr. Rahman provided a point-by-point rebuttal to the ABVP’s allegations against him and added that he had done everything, including initiating an inquiry against the allegations levelled at him. Writing that the committee did not hear his side, he accused ABVP members, particularly those not enrolled in the college, of influencing the outcome of the inquiry.
“That on 04.12.2022, when the team of Higher Education Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh from Bhopal had visited the college for investigation, I was admitted in the hospital due to a sudden health issue and was not present in the college. The students affiliated to the ABVP presented themselves before the committee and they intimidated other students from entering the college… even the regular students who went before the inquiry committee, were also intimidated,” the letter says.
“They threatened and roamed around the inquiry committee and created an atmosphere of fear among other students,” Mr. Rahman told The Hindu.
“Keeping in view all the above factual circumstances, the action taken against me is unjust and unfair and the work done by me for the upliftment and educational environment of this college and to establish the constitution and statutory values is not only recognised at the State level, but the college has made a distinct identity at the national level,” the letter says.
Writing to the Governor is the last administrative option left before Mr. Rahman approaches the court. Incidentally, just three days before the letter was sent, the Supreme Court — hearing a petition filed by Mr. Rahman, in which he has sought protection from arrest in the criminal case he faces — reportedly expressed surprise over the Madhya Pradesh government intending to challenge the anticipatory bail granted to him in the case.
“State must do some more serious stuff. He is a college principal. Why you are arresting him? A book is found in the library which is said to have some communal undertones. Therefore he is sought to be arrested? The book was purchased in 2014. And he is sought to be arrested? Are you serious?”, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud asked the State’s counsel, according to a report on the Website LiveLaw.
In the letter to the Governor, too, Mr. Rahman reiterated that he had no information about the “existence of the book” in the college library. He further claimed that on December 2, 2022, Lucky Adiwal from ABVP had shown the book Collective Violence and Criminal Justice System written by Dr Farhat Khan, to the librarian and said it was being taught there. “..After that when he was leaving the library and taking the book along with him, the librarian told Aadiwal that he couldn’t do so without making an entry and hence an entry was made,” Mr. Rahman wrote.
Mr. Adiwal, on his part, dismissed the allegations that the organisation had intimidated anyone. “It was instead Dr Rahman and faculty members close to him who had used influence to coax students into providing statements favourable to him before the committee,” he claimed.