The ongoing controversy at the Aligarh Muslim University over a decades-old portrait of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah led to protests at the campus on Wednesday.
Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Hindu Yuva Vahini barged into the campus around 3 pm on Wednesday demanding the removal of the portrait. When they tried to burn an effigy of Jinnah at the university’s Baba Sayed gate, some students from the AMU tried to stop them. Following this, members of the Hindutva groups allegedly beat up the students, News18 reported.
They also shouted slogans of “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jinnah Murdabad” and asked the university to remove the portrait within 48 hours, according to the Hindustan Times.
Heavy police force was deployed at the campus to restore peace. The police allegedly used teargas shells and lathicharge to disperse the students, who were demanding that members of the Hindutva groups be arrested.
An event to confer former Vice President Hamid Ansari a life membership of the students’ union was called off following the protests. “The incident is disturbing as we realise that this may be an attempt to tarnish the image of the university, given that [former vice president] Hamid Ansari is in the campus and union is going to host him with open heart and hand,” former Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union office bearer Ghazala Ahmad told Scroll.in. “Students’ Union considers this act as a threat to security of former vice president.”
Ahmad added: “The Uttar Pradesh Police shamelessly escorted the Hindutva groups, and witnessed the incident, while they did everything to create communal tension in an institute of national importance.”
On Monday, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Satish Gautam took offence to the portrait of Jinnah inside the Aligarh Muslim University Student Union Office and wrote to university Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor seeking an explanation. The university, however, said the portrait has been up for several decades as Jinnah was a donor, a founder member of the University Court and had been granted life membership of the student union.