News Analysis |
At least 28 students were injured in police baton charge on Wednesday at the Aligarh Muslim University, which has been witnessing a row over a decades-old photograph of Pakistan founder and freedom fighter Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Earlier on Wednesday, Rapid Action Force of the Uttar Pradesh police was deployed after students and invading Hindu Jagran Manch members almost came to blows. The right-wing activists were demanding the removal of Jinnah’s photo, to which the students objected. Members of RSS-affiliate Hindu Jagran Manch had tried to storm the campus on Tuesday to force the university authorities to remove the portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah from the Students’ Union Hall.
Speaking about Tuesday’s incident, Aligarh SSP Ajay Kumar Saini said, “Around eight to 10 workers claiming to be from some right-wing organisation arrived at the university gates and allegedly tried to force their way into the campus demanding removal of Jinnah’s portrait. The university proctor informed us that the group assaulted the university guards and were trying to enter the campus.” He said they also torched Jinnah’s effigy before they were chased away by police.
Most Hindutva extremists spread Islamophobia by exerting hatred within the Indians against the Muslim minority in India. The extremists compare the Muslim population of India with their “archenemy “Pakistan.
As many as 28 students and 13 policemen were injured in clashes at Aligarh Muslim University late on Wednesday. The students were on their way to the police station in protest against an armed invasion by the Hindu Jagran Munch & other groups outside the varsity a day ago when the clashes broke out. They were demanding a ban on the Hindutva groups and stated they were targeted by police.
Later in the evening, hundreds of students tried to march to the local police station, where the activists had been confined. Unable to control them, the RAF men used force, reports suggested. The clash took place at the university’s main gate.
The AMU Public Relations Officer said that the students were carrying out a peaceful march and wanted to know why protesters from Hindu groups were let off without an FIR being registered against them and why they weren’t stopped before they reached the varsity. Police baton-charged the students and also used tear gas, the PRO said.
“Most injuries are caused by blunt objects like cane. Some students have sustained head injuries, some just bruises. Scans and X-rays have been conducted in most cases, reports are awaited,” a doctor told the media. At the heart of the clash is a photo of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which has been hanging at the University’s student union hall for years.
The university proctor informed us that the group assaulted the university guards and were trying to enter the campus.” He said they also torched Jinnah’s effigy before they were chased away by police.
On Monday, Satish Gautam, the BJP lawmaker from Aligarh, wrote to university vice-chancellor Tariq Mansoor, asking why the portrait was allowed. AMU spokesman Shafey Kidwai responded that Jinnah was a founder of the university and was granted life membership of the student union.
“Traditionally, photographs of all life members are placed on the walls of the student union,” he told news agency Press Trust of India. “Jinnah was accorded life membership of the AMU students’ union in 1938. He was the founder member of the University Court in 1920 and also a donor,” he added.
The controversy coincided with a visit by former Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who was a professor as well as a vice chancellor of the university. Hundreds of students of the university are currently sitting at the main gate of the university, demanding action against members of right-wing organizations.
University officials are believed to have taken down Jinnah’s portrait for now. There is no official word on it, but sources say many other portraits have been taken down as well for cleaning. UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya, formerly with the BSP, questioned the controversy over Jinnah. “It is shameful for anyone to point a finger at great leaders who contributed towards nation-building,” he said in a statement. He further said that Jinnah was a ‘maha purush’ (Great Man) and had played a significant role in India’s struggle for Independence.
Scans and X-rays have been conducted in most cases, reports are awaited,” a doctor told the media. At the heart of the clash is a photo of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which has been hanging at the University’s student union hall for years.
It is apparent that it is Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s relation to Pakistan, India’s neighbor and Hindutva’s resident demon which has caused the ire of Hindutva groups. The use of the Pakistani label as a marker of “treason” is a standard tactic used by Hindutva activists to defame their opponents.
Most Hindutva extremists spread Islamophobia by exerting hatred within the Indians against the Muslim minority in India. The extremists compare the Muslim population of India with their “archenemy “Pakistan. This helps them to polarize society and convert animosity into votes and popular support. It is through such perception management that often Hindutva militants get away with horrific atrocities and eventually are hailed as “guardians” of Indian Hindus.