AMU row: Tear down Jinnah's portrait, says Muslim Mahasangh chief; updates

Aligarh Muslim University students stage a protest over Jinnah portrait issue 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).

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.

Meanwhile, AMU has clarified that the students are protesting to press for their demand for immediate action against the so called Hindutva activists who barged into the campus and for judicial enquiry into incidents of lathi-charge and other demands as contained in their memorandum given on May 2. 

The situation continues to remain tense as both sides appear poised for a long-drawn battle.

Here are the top 10 developments around the Jinna-AMU portrait controversy:

1. Muslim organisations burn 'anti-Jinnah' posters outside BJP officeMuslim organisations on Saturday burnt 'anti-Jinnah' posters outside BJP office in Lucknow in protest against the portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Aligarh Muslim University.

The police seized an effigy of Jinnah from them.

2. AMU controversy part of conspiracy, says RLD leader: Senior RLD leader Mairajuddin Ahmad on Saturday claimed that the controversy over a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah at the Aligarh Muslim University was part of a conspiracy, which should be investigated.

The portrait hangs at the student union office of the university.

The former Uttar Pradesh minister claimed that the Bombay High Court museum, which was inaugurated by Narendra Modi, also has a portrait of the Pakistan founder.

He said if those behind this conspiracy have the courage, they should try and have Jinnah's portrait in the HC's museum removed.

The BJP and the RSS are targeting minority institutions, the RLD national general secretary said at a meeting of a minority body.

ALSO READ: SP MP compares Jinnah to Gandhi, Nehru

3. AMU Maharashtra alumni body seeks judicial probe of violenceThe Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association of Maharashtra on Saturday demanded a judicial probe into the violence on the varsity campus earlier this week, and called for "strictest possible action" against the culprits.

"An environment of growing intolerance has been created in society due to politics of hatred and division. The attack on AMU was deliberate and state-sponsored as goons entered the university waving and firing pistols in the presence of police and media," Tanweer Alam, president of the association, said in Mumbai, reported PTI.

Alam alleged that when AMU students and staff handed over some of the accused to police, they were released without the registration of an FIR. The police had been provided with evidence in the form of CCTV footage, he said.

4. Amit Shah asks Congress not to involve other nations in India's politicsBJP chief Amit Shah on Saturday asked the Congress not to involve foreign nations in India's domestic politics as he wondered why the party involved Pakistan in such matters.

Amir Shah tweeted screenshots of Pakistan government paying tributes to Tipu Sultan, who ruled parts of present-day Karnataka, on his death anniversary on Friday and Mani Shankar Aiyar's reported praise of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the neighbouring country.

"The Congress and Pakistan have amazing telepathy. Yesterday, Pakistan government remembered Tipu Sultan, whose jayanti (birth anniversary) the Congress marks with fanfare and today Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar admires Jinnah. Be it Gujarat or Karnataka polls, I fail to understand why Congress involves Pakistan," he claimed.

Congress and Pakistan have amazing telepathy.

Yesterday Pakistan Government remembered Tipu Sultan, whose Jayanti Congress marks with fanfare and today Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar admires Jinnah.

Be it Gujarat or Karnataka polls, I fail to understand why Congress involves Pakistan!

— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) May 5, 2018

Amit Shah, in his tweets, also referred to a meeting of Congress leaders with Pakistani officials during the Gujarat polls last year.

During Gujarat elections we saw how dinner meetings with topmost Pakistan officials were held to defeat BJP and now mutual love for Tipu Sultan and Jinnah.

I appeal to Congress not to involve foreign nations in our domestic politics. Let’s keep the discourse civil and positive.

— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) May 5, 2018

5. Situation remained peaceful yesterdayThe situation at Aligarh Muslim University remained peaceful on Saturday, however, the indefinite dharna and boycott of academic activities by students continued for the third day yesterday.

Meanwhile, the president of Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union, Geeta Kumari, on Saturday asked the RSS and different saffron groups to "stop interfering in the internal affairs" of different educational institutions in the country.

She asked the saffron groups to stop taunting Muslims and repeatedly asking them to "go to Pakistan". "India belongs to all and the RSS or any group does not have the right to appropriate the right and to dictate as to who will stay in India and who will not," she said.

6. What's the rationale behind demand to remove Jinnah's portrait? asks Islamic bodyAn Islamic organisation on Saturday questioned the rationale behind the demand of some right-wing activists for removing a portrait of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah from the Aligarh Muslim University.


"What is the rationale behind such a demand after it has been there in public view for the past 80 years? Even if someone has such a demand, they can move courts for the same... Why such a row over it?" asked Jamaat-e-Islami Hind president Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari, reported PTI.


Describing it as a small issue that has been blown out of proportion, Umari said it has long been the practise in AMU to display portraits of its lifetime members of the students' union in the campus.


Jinnah's picture was in the campus since 1938. In all these years, no one had raised any objections or put forward any demand for its removal, he added.


7. Jinnah not an icon of India; BJP polarisingcommunalising issue, says CongressThe Congress said on Friday that Muhammad Ali Jinnah was never and would never be an icon of this country as it condemned the politics allegedly being played out by the BJP to create polarisation and communalisation.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi accused the BJP of provoking sentiments and communalising the atmosphere by raking up an "artificial" issue of Jinnah's picture at AMU, which has led to violence in the Uttar Pradesh town.


He charged the BJP with doing "dirty politics of sensationalism, divisiveness, polarisation" and said this needed to be condemned.


Singhvi said if a photograph is hanging for decades and a group of people suddenly enter and deliberately make provocative statements and try and do identity politics and provoke people before the elections, "this is equally condemnable".


"This is the dirty politics of sensationalism, divisiveness, polarisation, which only one party for the last 70 years and before that for another 50 years has been precisely practising," he said, reported PTI.


ALSO READ: Jinnah was enemy of nation, says Uttar Pradesh deputy CM

8. Internet services suspended in AligarhInternet services were on Friday suspended in Aligarh district in the wake of unrest in AMU after the Jinnah portrait row. According to officials, this was done in order to prevent the circuation of fake news and rumours on social media website. 


"There will be no internet services from 2 pm today to 12 midnight tomorrow," district magistrate Chandra Bhushan Singh said, according to news agency PTI.


It had come to the administration's notice that some anti-social elements could vitiate communal harmony by spreading rumours through videos, using internet services, his order said.


Tension prevailed in Aligarh and students continued with their sit-in at the university's Baab-e-Syed gate, where they had clashed with the police on Wednesday.


They are boycotting classes for the next two days.


The students offered Friday prayers at the scene of the dharna in which a large number of teachers and other members of the AMU fraternity participated.


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. 


Security personnel stand guard as Aligarh Muslim University students stage a protest over Jinnah portrait issue outside the university gate in Aligarh on Friday

9. 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.

Wednesday's clash took place when the students were demanding action against right-wing protesters who entered the campus and wanted the Pakistan founder's portrait removed from the student union office, where it has been hanging for decades.

AMU vice chancellor visits the injured at hospital: AMU vice-chancellor Tariq Mansoor on Friday visited the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital where three of the students injured in the police lathi-charge are being treated.


The VC later visited the protesting students and assured them of his "solidarity".

10. 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".

ALSO READ: NCM seeks report on police action on AMU students


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.


With agency inputs