New Delhi: Jamia Millia Islamia Vice-Chancellor Mushirul Hasan’s decision to offer legal aid to two of his university’s students arrested on terrorism allegations was buttressed on Friday when the Human Resource Development Minister supported him.
"This is a good gesture by students and teachers and the entire community there and I endorse it," said Arjun Singh about the university’s offer of legal aid to Mohammad Shakil and Zia-ur Rehman arrested in connection with the serial bomb blasts in Delhi on September 13.
Agencies report the Academic Council of Jamia Millia Islamia has also decided to form a legal aid committee. The varsity will use the students' assistance fund of Rs 650,000 to provide legal aid to students.
Hasan has said that receiving legal assistance was the constitutional right of the two students. Speaking to CNN-IBN on Friday, the Vice-Chancellor explained why he decided to offer legal aid to the students.
“Offering legal counsel to the students is not my agenda but of the university. This would be the agenda of any vice-chancellor or any teacher, because one is doing nothing except offering legal support,” said Hasan.
“There exist provisions in the Constitution, in the rule of law and the university system for legal and medical aid for students. I just spontaneously reacted as a teacher of long standing. The laws of justice must be observed that—that is all we want in the case of these students.”
“If they are proven terrorists, hang them but unless proved guilty they are presumed to be innocent,” he said. “We have the highest respect for the judicial system but there are processes for which people need support systems and that is all we are going to do. We are not going to defend the students but ensure that normal processes are made available. The same processes are available to criminals.”
“You want to a teacher to say we are going to abandon them or not make these processes available simply because they are dubbed as terrorists.”
Hasan said rejected allegations that the university offered legal advice after pressure from the students’ union and said such claims were “cynical” and incorrect.