The curious case of selectively ‘leaked’ Jamia Millia Islamia library videos from anti-CAA riots

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At 1:30 AM on 16th February, a Twitter account by the name of ‘Jamia Coordination Committee’ (JCC) tweeted an ‘exclusive CCTV footage’ from the reading hall in Jamia Millia Islamia university.

As per the time stamp on the video, it was from 15th December, 2019, the day anti-CAA riots broke out in Jamia Nagar where Jamia Millia Islamia university is located. The anti-CAA protests had gone violent and the rioters resorted to violence including pelting stones on police. When the rioters rushed inside the campus to take refuge, Delhi Police cracked down and resorted to lathi charge on the rioters. The carefully edited video shared by JCC was soon used by anti-BJP ecosystem including journalists to claim police brutality. Interestingly, Jamia coordination committee, which has released the video on twitter is not even an officially elected body. It is formed after the December 15 riots and has been forefront at organising anti-CAA protests inside the university campus as well as at Shaheen Bagh, Khureji and other places.

A longer version of the video shows how the ‘students’ are sitting with closed books on the desks when police personnel are seen entering the library. The ‘student’ on the right suddenly puts up a handkerchief mask (20 seconds into the video) on his face just before the police enter the library. The ‘student’ on the top left corner is also wearing a handkerchief across his face while standing against a wall.

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Here is where things get interesting. Jamia has provided footage to MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development), NHRC (National Human Rights Commission), Delhi Police, internal fact-finding team as well as Jamia’s Teachers’ Association. Sources in Jamia say that the CCTV footage was also given to certain individuals who had reportedly sustained injuries and wanted to take up legal proceedings. They were given footage on condition that they will use this footage for legal proceedings only.

Monday morning another video surfaced which was an ‘exclusive footage’ obtained by Maktoob Media. Maktoob Media claims it has an hour-long footage, but chose to release only about 5 minute clipped version. So, what is Maktoob Media?

Maktoob Media

Maktoob Media is a Kerala-based media startup founded in March 2014. As per Facebook it states it is based in Kerala, but on its website it mentions it is based in Delhi. It mentions “Shaheen Abdulla” as its Associate Creative Editor in its “About Us” section. Who is Shaheen Abdulla? Shaheen Abdulla is the same person who was ‘saved’ by the “Jamia Sheroes” who were hailed by controversial journalist Barkha Dutt. Husband of Aysha Renna, one of the “Sheroes”, Afsal Rahman, has also worked with Maktoob Media. He has currently deactivated his Facebook profile but as per his LinkedIn profile, he was associated with Maktoob till September 2019 and is currently associated with “Opera News”.

Shaheen, Ladeeda and Aysha – all three hail from Kerala where Maktoob Media is based out of. Ladeeda’s husband, Shiyas Perumathura, is Secretary of Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), Kerala. Mumbai chief of SIO, Salman Ahmed, was detained by Mumbai Police for making provocative statement during an anti-CAA gathering in Nanded, Maharashtra.

Students Islamic Organisation

The SIO was founded by Jamaat-e-Islami in 1982 after the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) broke away from it in 1981. A Livemint report from 2008 puts the relationship between the two organizations in this manner, “Blood brothers they may be, but the groups have charted conflicting courses, both in principle and actions. While SIMI is largely underground after the government crackdown, SIO is a gradually swelling student revolution in the making, taking Islam beyond the parodied stereotypes of fundamentalism and violence. Its mission: to prepare students, Muslims and non-Muslims, for reconstruction of a peaceful India on the basis of Islamic principles.”

Read: Khilafat 2.0: How Useful Idiots in the media and political parties were fooled by Jamia students associated with the ‘blood brother’ of a banned Radical Islamic outfit

Regardless of what the report may say, the people associated with SIO have clearly demonstrated that they have a tendency to gravitate towards violence as well. The mainstream media through its ignorance has given a pass to extremely toxic individuals. Due to their inherent ‘secular’ biases, journalists have taken dubious individuals at face value and have made no effort to throw hard questions at them. Even when their bigotry stood exposed, the media has attempted to provide them with an opportunity to clear their names. After all of this is said and done, the mainstream media will have to take a long and hard look at the manner in which it has conducted itself in these turbulent times and if they have a shred of shame, they will make a formal apology to the people of this country.

The Jamaat-e-Islami itself has an extremely turbulent past. After the partition of the country, the organization split itself into independent organizations in the newly created states. It has been described as having undergone an “ideological transformation” and said to have abandoned its goal of transforming India into an Islamic State. But given everything that has occurred in recent times, we will have to revisit this question.

Mehfil-e-Jamia

One of the first places the video of “Jamia Sheroes” ‘saving’ Abdulla from Delhi Police’s lathicharge was put up on a YouTube channel ‘Mehfil-e-Jamia’. The video was shared on 15th December 2019 and the images from the same were later widely circulated. In the video which starts abruptly, one can see Delhi Police personnel have reached one lane where Abdulla is being shielded by the women. The Police, it appears, had gone to that particular house in that particular lane while chasing Abdulla, since they seem to be specifically wanting to reach to him. While this video does not have ‘Mehfil-e-Jamia’ stamp, the February 16 video shared by JCC (which it claims was an exclusive footage) has the ‘Mehfil-e-Jamia’ stamp on the right side.

Unanswered questions

These ‘selectively’ leaked videos raise quite a few questions.

  1. How did Shaheen Abdulla, Aysha Renna, Ladeeda Sakhaloon alias Ladeeda Farzana and others reach that very house in that very lane with Delhi Police trailing them? Now that videos with Mehfil-e-Jamia logo are being shared as exclusive ‘leaks’, it may be a good time to revisit the “Jamia Sheroes”.
  2. How did media with wide lens cameras ready to capture the moment of ‘bravery’ of ‘sheroes’ reach there?
  3. Why was Delhi Police trailing Shaheen Abdulla and others? Were they lured to that lane so as to capture the ‘brutality’?
  4. Did Shaheen Abdulla manage to get the ‘footage’ from Jamia CCTV which was eventually heavily edited and released by Maktoob Media on Monday?
  5. If yes, how?
  6. How are ‘Mehfil-e-Jamia’ and Jamia JCC and Maktoob Media related?
  7. What is the role of Students Islamic Organisation in this?
  8. And last, but certainly not the least, who ‘leaked’ the videos?
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