Azim Premji University student reveals how students and teachers led a mob against him and accused him of Islamophobia

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In Bangalore, a student from Azim Premji University alleged that he was harassed and discriminated against because he was Hindu by a mob of students. On May 2, 2022, the college administration expelled him from further academic activity after he got into a fight with a Muslim student on campus over a minor issue.

Rishi Tiwari is an MA development postgraduate student from Ballan village of Banda district in Uttar Pradesh. According to him, was targeted by professors and other students of the institute on his alma mater – the Hindu University of Benares, because they believe it was a bastion of the “right wing” and his faith Hindu. He complained of being labeled as a ‘Sanghi’, a ‘BJP person’ and a ‘radical Hindu’ with a pattern of abuse. More details about the case can be read here.

However, the matter escalated when, according to Tiwari, a group of students harassed him and he was verbally abused and physically attacked by the student mob. Tiwari has revealed he was framed in a bogus case for allegedly throwing food in a Muslim student’s face and spitting at him after a fight. Following this incident, a section of students attacked Rishi Tiwari and waged a concerted campaign against him, he said.

Tiwari is accused of harassing the Muslim student instead, who allegedly broke his fast during a fight with Tiwari. However, regardless of Tiwari’s side, some Azim Premji University students ganged up on him in protest, he said. He is accused of “Islamophobia” for allegedly mocking a Muslim student. After pressure escalated in front of the administration, Tiwari was kicked off campus and expelled from his hostel with immediate effect until December 31, 2022.

In the message given to the official Azim Premji University group, Tiwari was already labeled as the perpetrator before his outright suspension after the incident. Tiwari alleged that his side of the story was not considered in the case. It was Rishi Tiwari who was subjected to ideological isolation and targeting at the University, yet the WhatsApp message portrayed him as a perpetrator of bullying, harassment and assault.

Although we have contacted the University for a comment, they have yet to respond.

Denied the right to self-clarification, the allegations against Rishi Tiwari were more ideological and religious with targeting with brazen stereotypes of being a ‘Sanghi’ or a ‘BJP supporter’. Meanwhile, Rishi Tiwari alleged he was continually isolated for wearing his Hindu identity on his sleeves. “If I have confidence in my identity and I believe in the Hindu religion, it is not a crime. Having ideological differences does not mean that I have to pay so much in the form of my degree and my work,” he says.

The abuse of social networks

OpIndia delved into the details and uncovered how systematic the abuse was against Rishi Tiwari which later escalated on social media. Instagram stories called for outright denunciation of Tiwari with open threats against those standing behind him for allegedly “naming and humiliating” by his own classmates. What was an internal university affair turned into a one-sided ideological war by left-wing sympathizers, who decided to openly “shame” Rishi Tiwari on social media.

Without proof of the allegations of the alleged crimes he allegedly committed, the allegations went to the level of portraying him as a perpetrator in the trial on social media. Second, the allegations against Tiwari seem more tied to his ideology of being a “Sanghi”. It has been alleged that a “Sanghi ideology is based on hatred against Muslims” and therefore on this assumption it was convenient to portray the student as the aggressor. An Islamophobia angle has been invented in what Tiwari called a small issue, and a concerted narrative is built on it to target it.

For those who refused to take sides in the case and waited for an investigation to take place, were accused of “bothsideism” and ambiguity. The need to take sides and that too against Tiwari was a must. Furthermore, Tiwari’s fight with said Muslim student on campus has been asked to be contextualized with alleged “calls for hatred and genocide”. Diversity of opinion was a big no – since it allowed “fascism”.

One of the Azim Premji University professors wrote a solidarity note on behalf of the lot asking to condemn the incident of bigotry at the school. She asked to arrange a meeting against the incident and came out openly against Tiwari in the matter. Tiwari complained earlier that a clique of teachers isolated him over his politics and views.

Email sent by the teacher to the class

Call to demonstrate against Tiwari

A student cabal called the incident an act of “Islamophobia”. The group had begun organizing protests against Rishi Tiwari on campus. Beyond incidents of social media abuse through Instagram stories directed at him, students have been mobilized to join protests over the issue. Claims that Tiwari spat in the face of another student were reiterated.

When OpIndia contacted Rishi Tiwari to find out his whereabouts recently, he said he was restricted from all academic activity on campus until the Disciplinary Committee completes its investigation. He has been barred from campus and his hostel until further notice.

Even as the investigation into the case is due, Rishi Tiwari has been penalized for the allegations made against him. When asked why the vertical suspension decision was made, he said the college was forced to take such action under pressure from students who burned down the campus with the protests. The suspension notice sent to Tiwari by e-mail mentions that his rustication was the result of a decision made in the “interest of the safety of all students”.

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