A few days ago, a disturbing video of one Sharjeel Imam, mastermind of Shaheen Bagh and The Wire columnist, surfaced in which he was seen exhorting Muslims living in India’s Chicken Neck to take control of the area and cut off Assam and the North-east from the rest of India. Soon the video went viral, inviting police action against Imam for his patently seditious and inflammatory assertions. After evading police for a few days, Imam was arrested from his hometown Jehanabad in Bihar on January 28 on charges of sedition.
Even as the Delhi Court sent him on a 6-day police remand yesterday, a conscious attempt is being made by his brother to garner public sympathy by recasting Sharjeel as a prodigy with exceptional academic credentials and high moral values.
Muzzammil Imam, Sharjeel’s brother, penned an open letter about his brother, portraying him as a revolutionary and extenuating him from his tendentious remarks that landed him in the jail. It is evident in the first sentence where Muzzammil says, “I am writing this piece to let you understand the man instead of his writings and speeches”. Even Sharjeel’s brother tacitly admitted that his brother’s speeches and writings were odious and controversial.
Muzzammil goes on to extol his brother by citing his academic excellence. He states that Sharjeel graduated from top universities and colleges like JNU and IIT-B. Once his educational prowess is established, Muzzammil then goes into raptures about his brother’s innate magnanimity and ascetic way of leading his life.
He narrates past incidents when Sharjeel had been generous enough to share his pocket-money with poor people while he himself remained famished. Muzzammil also stated how his brother apparently used to pay excess to the vegetable vendor because he sympathised with him for standing long hours under the sun for selling their vegetables.
In addition, Muzzammil also asserts that despite drawing a handsome salary, Sharjeel has never bought a piece of clothing by himself. “For his whole life, our father would purchase clothes for him, and after his demise, I, his younger brother, would purchase them for him,” Muzzammil said.
Muzzammil also claimed that despite having an offer of a job paying Rs 40 lakhs per annum, Sharjeel chose to join a job paying Rs 12 lakhs per year in southern metropolis of Bengaluru and used to bicycle his way to his company and wore kurta and slippers. The reason Sharjeel quit this job, Muzzammil contends is because he wanted to “better understand Indian society” and therefore he called it quits to a dream job and joined the JNU.
All these incidents pertaining to Sharjeel’s life, as narrated by his younger sibling, are used by Muzzammil to redeem his brother’s battered persona. He attempts to exculpate Sharjeel from his venom spewing, seditious exhortations and communal assertions while characterising him as an intellectual, virtuous and generous person who placed society and nation above himself.