ALIGARH: The simmering discontent triggered by the demand for removing a portrait of Muhammad 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).
The controversial portrait is hanging in AMU Students Union Hall archive building.
Internet services have been suspended. Teachers affiliated with the AMUTA and women students have joined the protest marches.
Noted historian Irfan Habib has said Jinnah was part of history and by removing his portrait one could not alter history. Other senior faculty members and office bearers of the teachers' body have also echoed similar sentiments.
The AMU students union leaders spearheading the current agitation have demanded firm action against those who vandalised the premises and entered the campus to create tension, resulting in violence that injured a dozen students.
The whole campus has become a cantonment with heavy deployment of PAC, RAF and the local police. The additional director general of police held several rounds of talks with senior district officials on Friday. 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. A spokesperson said that the students' agitation is not related to the portrait of M.A. Jinnah.A
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Tariq Mansoor, along with his wife, Dr Hameeda Tariq, for the second time visited the injured students admitted in the University's Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMC) and enquired about their treatment and health. The students were injured in a police lathi-charge while they were on their way to lodge an FIR at the Civil Lines Police Station against those who barged into the campus and disturbed the peace.
The Vice Chancellor also visited Bab-e-Syed where students are staging a sit in for fulfillment of various demands.
The state government, according to a prominent ex-student Jasim Mohammad, former media adviser to the VC, has already ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incidents. Jasim said the Indian Muslims or the AMU community has no relations with ideology of the Muslim League or Jinnah and they were against the division of the country.
Jasim Mohammad told IANS the episodes began with a letter written by Aligarh MP Satish Kumar Gautam where had demanded the Vice Chancellor to remove Jinnah's portrait. "Later a group of 10-14 armed activists of the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), accompanied by policemen, came to the University Circle and moved towards the Bab-e-Syed where they attacked security guards and students. Extra police force came and took the HYV cadres into custody but released them from the Civil Lines Police Station. When the AMU students moved towards the police station to get their FIR registered and protest against the release of the HYV cadres, the police lathi-charged them and fired teargas shells, due to which many students received serious injuries," Jasim Mohammad said.
Hesaid that UP Chief Minster Yogi Aditya Nath has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the entire incident. He said that the police officers who released the HYV cadres should be identified and punished. "The inquiry should also find out whether the former Vice President of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, was also a target of Hinduvadi goondas," he said
Meanwhile the AMUTA observed black Friday. In a resolution, after considering the seriousness of the situation arising out of "malicious acts of fringe elements spreading hate and communal harmony," it condemned the police brutalities and excessive use of force on peaceful AMU students, and demanded transfer of the police officers involved in the episode.
The local MP, Gautam and the Hindutva groups continue to press their demand for immediate removal of the Jinnah portrait.
The situation continues to remain tense as both sides appear poised for a long-drawn battle.