Field Notes: Witnessing A College Principal In Tears 


On a warm winter morning in December, chaos brewed outside the New Government Law College of Indore in Madhya Pradesh.

Media vehicles lined the campus, and a motley crew of people—young people in black coats and pants who looked like students, people dressed in vibrant colours and some with long tikkas on their foreheads—were shouting and demanding the resignation of Dr Inamur Rahman, the principal of the law college. 

They accused him of promoting “love jihad”, a conspiracy theory about Muslim men tricking Hindu women into marriage with the ultimate objective of out populating the Hindu majority in India. 

I was there reporting a Hindu right-wing student group's censorship of a book by a Muslim writer, which escalated into the principal’s resignation and protests against ‘Islamic extremism’ and ‘anti-Hindu sentiment’ at the college. In response, the Madhya Pradesh government ordered the police to act against three Muslim academics, who now face eight criminal charges.

As journalists swarmed the law college campus, cameras rolling and microphones held high, the students continued to shout slogans like “Stop love jihad” and “We demand the principal's resignation”.

With many channels broadcasting live, reporters were regurgitating the allegations against the Muslim principal with a fervour that matched those of the protesters.

I glimpsed the modest cabin of the principal behind the crowd of students. A simple placard was suspended above the entrance. As I made my way inside, I witnessed the principal besieged by reporters shouting questions at him. 

I saw Dr Rahman break down in the face of such hostility, his eyes brimming with tears. Even then, there was no pause for empathy. His distress was met with callous indifference and some snickering. 

The principal attempted to make sense of the situation but only ended up expressing bewilderment at the allegations and frustration at the situation. 

Trembling as he spoke, Rahman said, “I have no idea what these students want. I have already taken steps to initiate an investigative committee. What more can I do? My hands are tied.”

As I walked away from the scene, I felt profoundly unsettled by the palpable bias and hostility with which my fellow reporters had questioned the Muslim principal. Asking difficult questions was essential, but I knew this was something else. 

My reverie was broken by the constant buzzing on my phone. WhatsApp was awash with news of the principal’s resignation.

Read Akansha Deshmukh’s full story here.

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