Aligarh Muslim University on Sunday postponed all examinations to May 12 because of the tension at the campus over a portrait of Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, IANS reported.

The decision was taken at a meeting that the deans of faculties, members of the varsity’s executive council members and the registrar attended. Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor chaired the meeting. A university spokesperson said there would be no further postponements.

Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Hindu Yuva Vahini stormed into the university on May 2, demanding that Jinnah’s portrait be removed from the students’ union hall. When students protested, members of the Hindutva groups allegedly beat them up. Hundreds of students organised a dharna at the campus gate the next day.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh waded into the controversy on Sunday, claiming that AMU students were insulting their forefathers who had rejected his ideology. “They are Indians today because of their forefathers,” Singh said in a social media post titled “Let us protect our freedom from abuse”.

“If you are not a Muslim but support the portrait’s presence because you think that protests against it curb your freedom, then you should think if you would like on the walls of your house a picture of somebody whose hands are stained with the blood of your own people,” the minister said.

Anti-RSS slogans

A video clip of the varsity students shouting “azadi [freedom]” from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party went viral on Sunday, The Times of India reported. AMU Students’ Union President Mashkoor Ahmad Usmani admitted that the students had shouted the slogan. “We are demanding a ‘Sangh-free India’,” Usmani told the daily. “The time has come to launch a countrywide movement to rid it of people who are dividing the nation and creating hatred among communities by spreading venom.”

The university’s spokesperson Shafey Kidwai dismissed reports that the students had chanted anti-India slogans, PTI reported. “Students were on an indefinite protest at the Bab-e-Syed gate of the university, and were raising the slogan – ‘Bhagwa rang aur aatank se azadi [Freedom from the saffron colour and terror]’,” Kidwai said. “These are not anti-India slogans, and do not relate to the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India.”

Activists from Hindutva groups responded with the slogan “We gave azadi to Afzal Guru, Ajmal Kasab and will give it to others” during a rally on Sunday. “Our slogans are for those who are indulging in anti-national activities and demanding freedom,” said Saurabh Chaudhary, the convener of RSS-affiliate Dharm Jagran Samiti in Aligarh. “Till now, we have been giving warnings to them in a democratic manner but if the need arises we will adopt other means to remove Jinnah’s portrait.”

The Hindu Jagran Manch’s state president Ghanshyam Lodhi demanded that a sedition case be registered against the Aligarh Muslim University students.