Amid the ongoing outrage over the presence of a portrait of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah inside the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), reports have emerged claiming that his picture has gone missing from the student union’s hall. Reports said that the portrait at the centre of a row went missing on Wednesday just ahead of a ceremony to bestow lifetime membership of the student union on former Vice President Mohd Hamid Ansari who had also served as the Vice-Chancellor of the AMU between 2000 and 2002.
The development comes in the backdrop of Hindu Yuva Vahini’s 48-hour ultimatum to the AMU to remove Jinnah’s image. Hindu Yuva Vahini is an outfit founded by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
While the AMU student’s body expressed shock over the development, university authorities said that the portrait was removed from the student union’s hall temporarily for ‘cleaning purposes’.
Hindu Yuva Vahini had earlier issued an ultimatum to the AMU to remove Jinnah’s portrait within 48 hours. The group had warned that if the image of Jinnah was not removed in two days, its members will do it forcibly.
A major controversy erupted on Monday when Aligarh BJP MP Satish Gautam objected to Jinnah’s portrait and sought an explanation from AMU Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor for hanging his picture on the wall of the student union’s hall.
Yesterday, at least six people were injured when violence broke out at the university campus. Police had to lob teargas shells and resort to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd which was demanding the arrest of protesters who had earlier barged into the campus shouting slogans. The function to grant life membership of the student union to Hamid Ansari was also called off in view of the agitation.
According to AMU proctor Mohsin Khan, a small group of Hindu Yuva Vahini activists had arrived at the University Circle around 2 pm and started raising slogans. The protestors were detained and taken to the Civil Lines police station. But later, a large group arrived at the police station and managed to take away their supporters. The group then started marching towards the Bab-e-Syed gate and entered the campus. It was then that the clashes broke out, forcing the police to resort to baton charge.
Meanwhile, university spokesman Shafey Kidwai has defended the move to display the portrait of Jinnah, saying he was a founder member of the University Court and was granted life membership of the student union. The AMU has been maintaining that Jinnah’s portrait was installed in 1938 when he was honoured with a lifetime membership of the student union, much before the partition in 1947.