A portrait of Mohammed Ali Jinnah at the student union’s hall inside the Aligarh Muslim University campus has stirred up a controversy with Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Aligarh Satish Gautam writing to the varsity’s Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor demanding an explanation. In his letter, the BJP leader asked him of the compulsion behind installing a photo of the man who had played a key role in the partition of India in 1947.
Guatam said he doesn’t know where the picture is displayed in the university but questioned why it is there. He said that after partition, there is no justification for the display of a photo of Pakistan’s creator. Satish suggested to the VC that if they indeed wished to display a portrait, they should install photos of great persons like Mahendra Pratap Singh who had donated the land for setting up the university.
Reacting to the BJP MP’s letter, AMUSU president Mashkoor Ahmad Usmani said that the portrait of Jinnah was installed in 1938. He said that Jinnah was honoured with a life time membership of the student union before 1947.
Former AMUSU president Faizal Hassan argued on the same lines, saying that the portrait was installed much before the partition but added that if the government passes any order regarding removal of the picture, the administration will surely take it into consideration.
TA Rehmani, president of Muslim Political Council of India defended Jinnah’s portrait at the varsity asserting that the AMU is an autonomous body under a parliamentary act. “It is with the university what portrait should be displayed and what should be taught to students. The university should take a decision regarding this,” he said.
BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, however, backed Satish Gautam, alleging Jinnah doesn’t belong to any part of India. “We have removed all British viceroys photos from Rashtrapati Bhavan, removed statues… names of roads like Auranzeb have been renamed… His (Jinnah) own daughter had said that she can’t accept an idiotic concept of Pakistan,” he told Times Now.
He added that arguments that AMU is self-governed and has own set of principles are fine but “they are taking money from the government and they have to live within the national ethos. “Yes it has an internal curriculum… but when it comes to national interest, better comply with it,” he said.