Even though one would expect it to be a moment of pride for most students to receive their degrees from the head of the government, students at Jamia are not so upbeat about the prime minister gracing the occasion. Among the reasons they cite is what Modi is supposed to have said about the university some seven years ago: “doob maro (go drown)”.
The remark was occasioned by the so-called Batla House encounter of September 2008 between the Delhi Police and terrorists where two Jamia students were arrested on alleged terror links. Modi, shortly after the incident, had addressed a gathering in Gujarat where he decried then Jamia Vice Chancellor Mushirul Hasan’s comment that the university would provide for legal aid for the accused students.
"There is a university in Delhi called Jamia Millia Islamia. It has publicly announced that it will foot the legal fee of terrorists involved in the act. Go drown yourself,” Modi had told the gathering in his hallmark style. “This Jamia Millia is being run on government money and it is daring to spend money on lawyers to get terrorists out of jail. When will this vote bank politics end?"
The unhealed wound
Some students in Jamia have voiced their concerns on social media regarding the convocation while others are running signature campaigns to persuade the authorities to rethink their decision.
“It is a matter of shame on the part of the administration to invite Modi for the convocation,” Khalid, a final year student of engineering told IANS. “This is an insult to the students and teachers' community of the university," he said. "This is just a ploy to present him as a secular person. But, we all know about his affiliations. First, Modi should apologise for this statement that he made after the fake Batla House encounter in 2008 about the university."
Others, meanwhile, insist that he should come and see for himself that Jamia students “are not terrorists.”
"Look Jamia is a central university and as the prime minister it is his duty to come and see what the university is all about. I am fine with his visit. At least, he will know Jamians are not terrorist," Eram Eqbal, a second year MA Development Communication student was quoted as saying by IANS.
The alumni, meanwhile, have written to the Vice Chancellor expressing their "anguish and grief" at Modi’s presence on the convocation, as some students took to social media to claim that they have no intention of receiving their degrees from the prime minister.
“I again plan not [to] go and receive my degree in person this year as the Chief Guest is a man who had called my university a breeding ground for terrorists and had put all of us in the dock and under investigating eyes of Intelligence agencies for being potential terrorists,” Asad Ashraf, a journalist with Tehelka wrote.
Even as there’s no official word from the prime minister's office on his attendance, it is clear that the old wounds have not healed.
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