Aligarh Muslim University…
“Type the suspension order for Prof. Siras!”
Much later…Allahabad High Court
“The decriminalization of homosexuality and the unconstitutional status of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is applicable across the country in an unbiased fashion. The Aligarh Muslim University has wrongfully suspended Prof. Siras and therefore I request the court to reinstate his position in the University and the society!” argued Prof. Siras’s lawyer.
Meanwhile…Prof. Siras sat at the back, scribbling on his notepad, unscathed and uninhibited by his surroundings or the proceedings of a case that he willingly fought. After the day’s proceedings, Siras headed home, entering with great caution and shutting all the doors and windows behind him to avoid the prying eyes of neighbours, who belittled him and reduced him to nothing more than being ‘gay’, after his case was publicised in all the newspapers. His life had changed overnight. He poured himself a drink and reflected back at the night that everything went south…
His day had been like any other, full of lectures and other administrative duties. As the head of the Department of Modern Languages, he had shouldered greater responsibilities than his peers. He had spent nearly 2 decades in the University and he absolutely adored the campus and its life…inquisitive minds all around…greenery that attracted him greatly…the quiet of the campus…
He had arrived home very late in the night. His partner, another man, had walked up to the flat with him. They had liked each other for some time and were enjoying each other’s company. They were fond of each other. While they indulged in consensual sex, two strangers, claiming to be journalists, barged into the bedroom and caught their act on camera, later claimed as ‘gross misconduct’ by the University. Siras had been disrespected, disregarded and condoned for a reason as small as his sexual preference! Both him and his partner had been beaten up and treated in immoral ways by those ‘journalists’ and had been filmed against their will.
Come morning, all the local newspapers displayed clippings from the video and the news channels streamed the video for all to see and Siras’s life and reputation, built over several decades through sheer knowledge and perseverance, had come crumbling down.
The University had seen no more than his sexual preference, which is nobody’s business but his, and had suspended him for the ‘gross misconduct’, stripping him off of his position, reputation and even accommodation on campus.
Siras won his case in the Allahabad High Court and his position was reinstated at the Aligarh Muslim University. Few days later, Siras was found dead in his apartment. The police suspected suicide as traces of poison were found in his blood. But later, six people were arrested on suspect of murder but due to insufficient evidence the case was closed!
Why should a person’s sexual preference matter more than his knowledge? Why should a Professor at a prestigious University suffer humility and disrespect for something that is his personal choice and nobody’s business but his?
On 12th December, 2013, the Supreme Court of India overturned the decision of the Delhi High Court, criminalizing ‘unnatural sexual acts’ again!!! A law, introduced during the British Raj in all British colonies against sodomy, is still being followed here in India…after 60 years of Independence!!!! Where are we heading as a country???
PS: Aligarh is a film directed by Hansal Mehta and has Majon Bajpai leading the cast. With fantastic direction, this movie moves seamlessly back and forth in time and Manoj holds his ground strong as he explores the trials and internal conflicts of Prof. Siras as the events one night tore his life apart. Manoj Bajpai is sheer magic on the screen and has portrayed his character with enormous finesse. If you understand Hindi, this movie is a must watch! Please do try for a print with subtitles, if you do not understand the language!