The controversy over the display of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah at the Aligarh Muslim University’s (AMU) students’ union hall does not appear to be abating, with reactions and statements from leaders of different political parties sparking a fresh row each passing day. In the latest in the string of developments to have hit headlines in this ongoing row, Samajwadi Party leader and newly elected Gorakhpur MP, Praveen Nishad, compared Jinnah with Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, he said,”the way Nehru and Gandhi contributed to free India, the same way Jinnah also has equal contribution in country’s freedom”.
The western UP town found itself in the middle of an absolute chaos when Satish Gautam, local BJP MP, raised the issue of the portrait at AMU campus and asked for an explanation from the university administration in a letter to the VC. While the controversy over the letter broke out on May 1, university officials told FinancialExpress.com that the letter was received at the varsity only on May 3. Notably, the contents of Satish Gautam’s letter became public even before the letter reached the administration.
The letter sparked clashes in the campus, injuring 41, including 28 students and 13 policemen. Right since then, the city which is famous for its lock industry, has found itself locked once again, this time over a portrait. Prohibitory orders have been issued in Aligarh and the police have also ordered a suspension of internet services to clamp down on rumour-mongering and instigating violence in an already tense situation.
Now, the students’ union has demanded that the National Security Act be slapped against the MP and said that it is planning to move the National Human Rights Commission over the issue.
Here are the top developments of the story in the aftermath of the whole controversy:
1. Tension has gripped the iconic university and the city, which comes under the category of most sensitive districts in the state. The administration is extra vigilant because of the fact that Aligarh has a history of violent riots between different religious communities.
2. On May 2, right-wing groups barged into the university campus, raising anti- Pakistan slogans, with the intention to remove the portrait. Clashes erupted near the Baab-e-Syed gate of the university campus forcing the police to lathi-charge and use tear gas to control the situation. The clashes left dozens of students and several policemen injured. The injured are being treated at the university’ Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College.
3. Amit Goswami, a right-wing leader had set a 48-hour deadline till Friday for the AMU to remove the portrait, failing which he threatened to come along with 1000 people to remove the portrait. According to News18, the District Magistrate has ordered the suspension of internet services in Aligarh from 2 pm to midnight on Friday in order to curb rumours in the wake of the controversy.
4. It all began on May 1 when Satish Gautam raised questions over the presence of Jinnah’s portrait inside the AMU campus. He wrote a letter to the VC seeking an explanation, triggering a row days after a student sought permission to hold an RSS shakha on its premises. The local MP also said that Jinnah divided the country and a university in this country should not glorify him.
5. More than 100 people have been booked by the police in connection with the clashes. A complaint has also been filed against former students’ union president. The current union president, Mashkoor Ahmad Usmani, vice president Sajad Rather and secretary, Mohammad Fahad, have also been charged under different sections of the IPC.
6. Firebrand leader Subramanian Swamy has backed Gautam on the issue. “We have removed all British viceroys photos from Rashtrapati Bhavan, removed statues… names of roads like Aurangzeb have been renamed… His (Jinnah) own daughter had said that she can’t accept an idiotic concept of Pakistan,” he told Times Now. On the other hand, the AMU teachers’ union observed a black day on May 3. There has been a heavy deployment of security forces in and around the university after the clashes. The Rapid Action Force and PAC have also been deployed and police are keeping a close eye.
7. Notably, former Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari, was in the campus on May 2 when clashes broke out. He was to be conferred with the lifetime membership of the AMU Students’ Union. The practice is being followed since years. The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered a probe into the May 2 clashes.
8. The students’ union has claimed that the former VP Ansari was the target of the right-wing forces, who were raising slogans like ‘Jinnah Murdabad’, ‘Jai Shri Ram’, while barging in the campus. They also alleged that police didn’t act against the groups as they enjoy the patronage of the ruling party. They said that it was only when they protested that an FIR against some people was registered. However, the local police have rejected the claim that Hamid Ansari was the target of the group.
9. On Thursday, UP CM Yogi Adityanath broke his silence on the matter and said that Jinnah cannot be celebrated in India. He also said that he has sought a report on the matter and action will be taken as necessary. UP government also made it clear that it would not allow the commemoration of Jinnah.
10. Meanwhile, politics continues unabated even as Aligarh reels under the grip of violence and tension. Earlier, UP minister and BJP leader Swami Prasad Maurya called Jinnah a “great leader”, leaving the BJP and RSS red-faced. Today, Samajwadi Party leader and newly elected Gorakhpur MP, Praveen Nishad, compared Jinnah with Nehru and Gandhi. Congress’ leader Pramod Tiwari said that BJP is instigating the matter.