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Facebook banned on AMU campus
MOHAMMED ANAS  New Delhi | 6th Oct 2012

he Aligarh Muslim University administration, under the leadership of Vice Chancellor Zameeruddin Shah, a retired lieutenant general, has banned the social networking site Facebook on campus. While the administration says this has been done to fix "technical snags" and curb the "overuse of internet", students describe this as a military measure to pre-empt student mobilisation.

AMU students say that Facebook was blocked two weeks ago when protests against the anti-Islam film were being staged worldwide and the university authorities feared a fallout. "But now that the protests are over and there is no sign of such an uprising in India, what's the logic behind this draconian move?" asked Mohammed Afaque, a research student in the faculty of social sciences.

Afaque added that the university used the protest to block the site so that an effective student interaction platform would be snatched from them. "It's common knowledge that Facebook is extensively used by the student community to voice their concerns. Its successful impact is well known after many successful online protests organised worldwide in recent times. Actually, many such online campaigns against the university administration in general and against the vice chancellor in particular were organised in AMU a few months ago. The vice chancellor has eyed the opportunity to take his revenge," added Afaque.

Afaque was recently suspended by the university proctor for his online activism.

The university registrar, Shahrukh Shamshad, a retired Air Force official, said that there was some "technical problem" which was not letting the AMU's internet network to access Facebook. "I received complaints about this and have spoken to the computer centre staff to fix it as soon as possible. Some technical problem has hit the Facebook service," said Shamshad.

Vice Chancellor Shah refused to comment on the matter. His office said that it's a non-issue for him.

Sohail Mushjab, the director of AMU's Computer Centre, the nodal agency which maintains the internet services in the university, said that students were overusing the internet because of their addiction to Facebook, because of which the site was blocked.

"We have recently received a bill of around Rs 10 cr for our internet services. It was thought to be because of excessive Facebooking by students. Hence, a ban on the website was effected," he said.

Beleaguered students say that they are being forced to visit cybercafes to access Facebook.

"Facebook is our alternative community life. It's our online teashop. The AMU campus is famous for its lively chai dhabas (tea joints). We miss our online gathering," said Shahb Ahmad, a student pursuing PhD in law.

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