On April 2, a law student named Umam Khanam had started a controversy after she had alleged that she was harassed by fellow students for being a Muslim during a college trip.
Umam Khanam, in a series of tweets, had also claimed ‘victimhood’ stating that certain students under the influence of alcohol had harassed her.
She had claimed that the fellow students were carrying BJP caps which they were forcing her to wear and consequently, she was harassed after she refused to wear those caps. She also suggested that her Muslim identity played a role as she was the only person from the community in the entire group. She further stated that the faculty had ignored the fact that students were harassing despite being present right at the scene.
She had alleged that some of them had tried to touch her in an indecent manner while pulling her and forcing her to dance on seemingly vulgar songs. She had claimed that they had misbehaved with some of her friends, who had come forward to support her.
Soon after her post claiming sexual harassment, she became a sensation on social media and the usual suspects began to blame the BJP for Islamophobia and shared it across platforms.
Following the incident, Ambuj Sharma, head of the department (HoD) at Dewan Law College, who had accompanied the group was contacted by Dushyant Dubey, co-host of the Chai with Red Pills podcast along with comedian Ahmed Sharif. Sharma had reportedly said that nothing of the sort had happened. The recording of the call has been accessed by OpIndia.com.
OpIndia.com, too, had contacted Sharma to inquire about the matter. Sharma denied the whole incident while talking to us as well and said that he will look into the matter when he goes to college next. He also denied that any student had consumed alcohol.
A new report by journalist Swati Goel Sharma, Swarajya, reveals further interesting details regarding the incident. According to the report, Ambuj Sharma then went to escalate the matter to the institute’s head and executive director Colonel (retired) Dr Naresh Goyal, who then spoke to Umam.
“She looked very agitated and told me that she was sexually harassed on the tour. She took two names, Amit Kumar Singh and Ankur Verma, and said they should be rusticated immediately. Then she said okay Amit is not so guilty but please rusticate Ankur,” said Goyal.
Goyal said Umam Khanam gave him a written complaint. He said that she mentioned “molestation” and made a specific charge against Ankur, mentioned both the accused’s names, but did not mention the word “BJP” or “Muslim” or that she was targeted for her religious identity.
The college soon formed a four-member committee to look into her complaint and sent letters to the accused informing them of their suspension until inquiry. Goyal said that they also added a Muslim faculty into the committee after seeing her tweets.
However, even after a week after the incident, the committee has not held a single meeting as neither the victim nor the accused or their parents have appeared before the committee for giving their statements. The college has now suspended the alleged victim Umam Khanam, along with the two students.
Interestingly, following the suspension, an active group have emerged on the social media comprising of nearly 35 students who were present on the bus that day. The group had recently written and signed a four-page statement to Goyal refuting Umam’s version completely and giving time-wise details of all that unfolded on the tour.
One such student Jyoti Singh, a first-year student of bachelors of law (LLB), same batch as the victim and the accused is leading the group. Swarajya Journalist Swati Goel Sharma has spoken to some of the students who were present at the trip last week.
After writing to the Principal, the group members also opened Twitter accounts to share the other side of the story. They also posted a video to reveal truth pertaining to the incident and released videos which shows that Umam smilingly dancing in the bus while Ankur is dancing alongside and not looking in her direction at all, further exposing Umam Khanam.
On the other side, neither the claims posted by Umam through her tweets nor the video does not prove or refute the story completely. As Umam herself spoke to Swarajya over the phone said, “If I was dancing, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t or couldn’t have been molested.” But the video contradicted Umam’s claim that she was forced to dance by the students.
Most importantly, other students who were are on the trip along with Umam has presented strong facts and reasons to allege that Umam was indeed lying about the incident.
First, there is no eye-witness, neither teachers nor students to corroborate the Umam’s account of the incident where she had claimed that two students had molested her.
Swarajya reporters spoke to all the four teachers — Ambuj Sharma, Neeraj Gupta, Garima Singh and Richa Tomar, who were part of the trip. Interestingly, all four of them have categorically denied having seen any kind of harassment on the bus. All of them also confirmed that Khanam did not approach any one of them even once throughout the trip.
“I even offered my seat to Umam at one point of time when I saw her standing, but she smilingly told me she was fine,” said Garima Singh. Another teacher Neera Gupta said that Umam was the last student to get down. He said that they had waited until her relative came to pick her up and confirmed that she was totally fine and did not tell them anything.
“On April 4, I asked Umam what had happened. She just said ‘hua tha hua tha, aapne dekha hi nahi‘ (it happened, it happened, you didn’t see it) and left,” said Ambuj Sharma.
“I asked her why she had tweeted instead of first approaching the grievance cell, and she said she did not know about it. It’s difficult for me to believe it as we have had several sessions with the students about this,” said Tomar.
Naresh Goyal has also confirmed to Swarajya that till date, no eye-witness of the harassment has come forward in Umam’s support.
Second, the student group refutes Umam statements where she had said that there were BJP caps. “She says the boys bought BJP caps. But there was no BJP cap at all. All that was there was a BJP flag that was already fixed in the bus at the rear end because probably the bus had been previously used for a BJP rally. The cap claim is a complete lie. Can she produce even one evidence of it? None of what she says adds up,” said Sandip Bansal, a classmate.
Third, the students also noted that apart from Umam, no other girl has complained or talked about her harassment. Shivani Chauhan, another classmate said, “She says some friends came to her rescue and were harassed too. Who are these friends? Till date, no such friend has been found,” said
Further, Goyal has confirmed that he has not received a complaint from any other girl on the bus for harassment.
Fourth, Umam’s classmates said that she is also misrepresenting the contents of the songs played. “Her tweet said the boys started playing songs like ‘jiski biwi lambi uska bhi bada naam hai, usse kothe pe bitha do‘ to harass her. But this isn’t a vulgar song. The line actually says ‘kothe se laga do‘ that means ‘place it along the wall’ and not ‘kothe pe bitha do‘ that means ‘make her sit in a brothel’. She is just making things up,” said Yashveer Yadav, a classmate. This famous song from Laawaris movie starring Amitabh Bachchan says that if your wife is tall, you don’t need a ladder. This is a light-hearted joke, and no way can be considered as obscene or vulgar.
Fifth, the students have also debunked Umam’s claims of facing harassment only because she was a Muslim. “She was our miss freshers. She remains one of the most popular girls in the batch. She seldom brings lunch and most of the time, she shares mine. We are always drinking from her bottle. There is absolutely no basis to that claim,” said Jyoti.
Interestingly, Shiva Trivedi, another classmate revealed that Umam was the one who discriminated them for their beliefs. Trivedi said that Umam had a grave contempt towards the BJP. “She tweeted that there is so much of hatred for Muslims and BJP is behind it. But the truth is, she is the one who discriminates against us and our beliefs. She hates BJP. She, in fact, hates India.”
Many students also came forward to give their testimonies to Swarajya regarding how Umam is a “religious fanatic” who did this “to get into the good books of Shehla Rashid and Afra Khanum”.
Ankur, one of the accused, spoke the reporter outside the campus and said that Umam has probably resorted to this to get even with him over their ideological differences.
“I often got into arguments with her about India and the BJP. She once called Army a bunch of rapists on social media. I called her out and she called me an ‘andh bhakt‘ (blind follower). After a similar spat again, she tweeted that while Saudi has money, Pakistan has beauty, India only has andh bhakts. It was directed at me. In fact, on the tour too, we had differences because she kept on calling me andh bhakt,” said Ankur as reported by Swarajya.
“I cannot think of any other reason why she would drag my name other than to get even with me over our ideological differences,” he said. Ankur added that when he confronted Umam a day after the complaint, she said that he must apologise in writing so she can post it on her Twitter account.
Another accused Amit said that he really did not know why she took his name. “I think she took my name because I recently joined a new friend circle. She was my very good friend until now,” said Amit. Swarajya also reported that Amit shared audio with them where Umam is asking him to pick her up from home in the morning.
Shiva Trivedi said, “Umam is a religious fanatic. She is conservative and orthodox in an extreme way. She calls Dawood [Ibrahim] as India’s ‘baap‘, wants Modi to be lynched, supports Sharia laws, cracks gau mutra jokes and goes around calling everyone andh bhakts and Hindutva-types who disagrees with her. The strange thing is, she calls us andh bhakts on the face and on Twitter, she calls for bhakts to be killed. All of us have had a fight with her at some point or the other,” he said.
Shiva also remembered an incident when a group of seven friends including Umam had gone to watch the film Uri, Umam had disturbed them after she refused to stand up for the national anthem and kept on calling it a propaganda film throughout. “This is just one of the incidents that show she is against India,” said Shiva.
“She wants to get into the good books of Shehla Rashid and Afra Khanum. She is always talking about them. No wonder she tagged them in her tweets too,” said Shiva.
Reportedly, Jyoti Singh also carried several printouts of Umam’s social media posts to strengthen their claims against Umam Khanam. “She deleted some three hundred tweets in a day. We managed to take screenshots of several of them,” said Jyoti.
Jyoti shared another incident involving Holi. “Amit and Ankur applied colour on her. Until the colour was white and green, she was fine. The moment they put saffron colour on her, and they did it unknowingly, she said this is not done and started crying,” Jyoti said while sharing some of the photographs of Umam crying with saffron colour splashed on her face. The report says that several other students also confirmed this to Swarajya.
Jyoti said, “She is always talking about her religion. Once a senior of ours who is a Muslim and is very secular, said he doesn’t believe in any religion, Umam got so mad that she stormed out of the conversation and till date, doesn’t talk to him.”
The Swarajya team also tried to reach out to Umam to listen to her version of the incident, who said she could only talk over the phone as she would not be visiting the college.
When questioned regarding why there no eye-witnesses, Umam said she stood by her complaint. Asked why her classmates are campaigning against her, Umam said a conspiracy against her is on. The reporter questioned the inconsistency in her tweets and written complaint that made no mention of her Muslim identity, she said she felt so and stood by her complaint. However, Umam disconnected the call after she got to know that the reporter works for Swarajya.