AMU-Jinnah portrait row: Exams delayed, alumni body seeks probe; 10 updates

Security personnel stand guard as Aligarh Muslim University students stage a protest over Jinnah portrait issue outside the university gate in Aligarh on Friday
The simmering discontent triggered by the demand for removing a portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah from a hall, has now blown up into a full-scale confrontation between Hindutva elements and the agitating students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). Condemning the violence on the Aligarh Muslim University campus, the Delhi chapter of the AMU Old Boys Association (AMUOBA) has demanded a time-bound judicial inquiry and immediate arrest of persons involved in the May 2 incident.

In a meeting held in New Delhi on Monday, the Delhi chapter of the alumni association also passed a resolution, to be submitted to President Ram Nath Kovind, with their demands.

Internet services were on Friday suspended at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and section 144 was imposed in the town amid high tension over the controversy that arose earlier this week on the portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah that has been hanging on a wall in the students union's office for decades.

The Jinnah portrait issue was reportedly raked on May 1, 2018, when a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of parliament (MP) Satish Gautam, in a letter to the Aligarh Muslim University vice-chairman, asked to explain why it displays a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The Aligarh Muslim University students were, however, reportedly not in favour of removing Jinnah’s portrait saying its part of the university’s history as he was given a life membership of the university’s union. 

Soon after the letter was sent, members of right-wing organisation Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), on Wednesday, barged into the varsity, shouting slogans against the hanging of Jinnah’s portrait and briefly clashed with Aligarh Muslim University students, according to news agency ANI. The clashes reportedly injured 41 people, including 28 students and 13 policemen. The HYV, which is founded by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, held the protest moments before former vice-president Hamid Ansari was to visit the university to attend an event. 

At least six people were injured when police lobbed teargas shells to disperse AMU students who demanded arrest of the protesters who had earlier barged into the campus.

The conflict had to be resolved by police intervention that resorted to teargas shells to disperse AMU students demanding the arrest of protestors who had barged into the university. They were then taken away to a police station from where they were later "rescued" by other protesters, AMU student union members said, reported ANI.

The whole campus has become a cantonment with heavy deployment of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the local police. The dharna and demonstrations continue as Hindutva groups are adamant on their demand which is being opposed by the AMU students and teachers.

A function to grant life membership of the student union to former vice president Hamid Ansari was called off and he returned to Delhi.

The AMU students alleged that the protesters were from Hindu Yuva Vahini, and were allowed to leave a police station after being initially detained.

Here are the top 10 developments on AMU-Jinnah portrait controversy: 

1. 'Savarkar was the first proponent of two-nation theory':
Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Monday said that Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was the first proponent of the two-nation theory.

Aiyar made this comment while speaking on 'Pakistan-India Relations- The Way Forward' during the Iqbal Ahmad Distinguished Lecture 2018 at Forman College, Lahore.

He also trained guns at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and said Savarkar is an ideological guru of the ruling party.

"Present situation in India is in abhorrence. It is abhorrent because these forces have existed since 1923 when a man called VD Savarkar invented a word which doesn't exist in any religious text, 'Hindutva'. So, first proponent of the two nation theory was the ideological guru of those who are currently in power in India," Aiyar said, according to news agency ANI.

Aiyar's statement contradicts the historical theory that Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the first person to bat for two-nation theory in 1940 in Lahore.

2. Delhi chapter of AMU alumni body urges judicial probe into campus violenceThe Delhi chapter of the AMU Old Boys Association (AMUOBA) has demanded a time-bound judicial inquiry and immediate arrest of persons involved in Jinnah portrait controversy. 

The association is deeply aggrieved by the partisan role played by the Aligarh police and the brutal lathi-charge on AMU students who were protesting the police inaction. More than a dozen students were seriously injured, the Delhi chapter of AMUOBA, which was formed in 1973, said in a statement on Monday.

The association demands immediate arrest of those who tried to attack former Vice President Hamid Ansari and barged into the campus brandishing weapons and shouting provocative slogans, thereby leading to an extremely volatile situation.

A time-bound judicial inquiry is also among the foremost demands. AMUOBA also demands action against the policemen who were complicit in what appears to be a coordinated and politically motivated attack on the university, it said.

The Delhi chapter, an offshoot of the 1899-formed AMOUBA, also demanded that the cases against AMU students be withdrawn.

3. AMU exams to now commence from May 12The annual examinations of the Aligarh Muslim University will now commence from May 12, according to Vice Chancellor Prof Tariq Mansoor. The examinations were earlier scheduled to begin from May 7 but were postponed following the ongoing students protest on the campus.

Prof Mansoor told PTI that the University has taken this decision in view of the improvement in the law and order situation in the campus.

He said there was no proposal for closing the university sine die as the situation at this stage does not warrant it even as he urged students to come forward and help in the process of normalcy and peace on the campus.

ALSO READ: AMU students not anti-national, don't harbour pro-Pak feeling: ex-VC Zameer Uddin Shah

4.  2 held for allegedly trying to foment trouble: Amit Goswami and Yogesh Varshney, a former city president of Hindu Yuva Vahini, were arrested late on Sunday in connection with the violence in AMU on May 2 and sent to custody, police said.

They allegedly tried to breach peace by posting inflammatory material on social media, prompting the administration to temporarily suspend internet service in the city.

Security arrangements in the city were tightened since Sunday evening after some youths took out a procession on motorcycles in sensitive areas and later made an abortive attempt to take out a procession from the Varshney Degree College to vent their anger against the AMU for displaying a picture of Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

5. 'Azadi' slogans in purported AMU videoEven as the indefinite dharna and boycott of academic activities by students in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) continued, a video of protesting students shouting slogans of "Azadi", apparently against right-wing groups, went viral on social media.

AMU PRO Professor Shafey Kidwai said, "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. These are not anti-India slogans, and do not relate to the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India."

Aligarh Muslim University students stage a protest over Jinnah portrait issue in Aligarh on Friday

6. Muslims wanting Jinnah's portrait in AMU insulting their forefathers, says V K SinghWading into the Jinnah row, Union minister V K Singh on Monday said those Muslims, who supported the presence of Pakistan founder's portrait in the Aligarh Muslim University, were insulting their forefathers, who had rejected his ideology.

Singh said, "If you are not a Muslim but support the portrait's presence because you think that protests against it curbs 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," reported PTI.

Apparently addressing AMU students, he said it is one of the leading universities in the country and they (the students) should be aware of the expectations the country has from them. Singh suggested they have to choose between wisdom and prudence, or narrow-mindedness and extremism.

7. Memorandum sent to President Ram Nath KovindAMU Teachers' Association (AMUTA) has sent a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind asking him to "urgently institute" a high-level judicial probe into the incident.

They said members of certain outfits entered the campus and disrupted the peaceful academic environment there.

The teachers also plan a peace march up to the district collectorate.

AMUTA secretary Najmul Islam told PTI that they have urged the President to treat the matter seriously as it involved a breach in the security of former Vice President Hamid Ansari.

Ansari was supposed to be felicitated at the University the day the violence broke out.

Islam said protesters who had entered the campus were reportedly carrying firearms.

He said the police, instead of preventing the hooligans from entering the campus, "remained mute spectators".

8. AMU students union say the violence is a 'deliberate and pre-planned attempt'The AMU Students' Union (AMUSU) alleged that violence on the campus was a "deliberate and pre-planned attempt" to attack former vice president Hamid Ansari, who was at that time barely 100 metres away at the university guest house, from where the violence erupted.

"Our protest will continue indefinitely till the police take action against those who were actually targeting the former vice president who had come to the AMU where he was to be granted a life membership of the Students' Union," AMUSU said in a statement issued in Aligarh, reported PTI.

The AMU Teachers' Association (AMUTA) held an emergency meeting on Wednesday night and passed a resolution stating that yesterday's action by the HYV was a "deliberate criminal conspiracy" in which the police instead of punishing the aggressors, indulged in "brutal action" against the students, who had later collected at the gate to protest the failure of the police to prevent the outsiders from entering the campus.

It has demanded that an FIR should be lodged against those who "masterminded the entire operation".

The AMUTA blamed the police for its "glaring security breach" for allowing "armed goons" to reach a spot which was just adjoining the university guest house where the former vice president was staying.

9. Magisterial inquiry ordered: The Aligarh administration ordered a Magisterial inquiry into the Jinnah portrait controversy that will be conducted by additional district magistrate Bachhu Singh, reported The Times of India. The report on the inquiry would be submitted within 15 days. 

The inquiry would dig into the details as to how the right-wing activists barged through the gates and why a first information report (FIR) was not registered against the activists, added the English daily.The inquiry would also look into allegations that some policemen had assisted those activists. 

10. 41 injured in clash between AMU students, cops28 students and 13 cops got injured in a clash which broke out between students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and police on Wednesday.

The students were marching to the police station after Hindu groups protested outside the university campus a day ago when the clash broke out.

Students demanding a ban on Hindu groups alleged that they were targeted by the police.

"Students were marching to the police station demanding to know why protesters of Hindu were groups let off without an FIR against them and why were they not stopped before reaching AMU. Police baton charged on them and used tear gas," a spokesperson from the university, reported ANI.

With agency inputs

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