In 1976, when the Emergency rule was at its peak, I remember going to the Aligarh Muslim University’s (AMU) Students Union Hall to hear Kuldeep Nayyar speak out against it. We were young and idealistic and had visions for our university, our nation and ourselves, and listened to him with rapt attention.
Others who have received it since are Dr BR Ambedkar, Dr Rajendra Prasad, KM Munshi, Maulana Azad, Sir CV Raman, Jayaprakash Narayan and Mother Teresa.
The AMU Students Union had invited Hamid Ansari, who is a former Vice President of India and an alumnus of AMU, to confer the same honour on him on 2 May 2018.
The local BJP MP, Satish Gautam, wrote a letter to the AMU Vice Chancellor on 30 April, seeking the removal of the Jinnah portrait. The Hindu Yuva Vahini , founded by Yogi Adityanath, had given a 48-hour notice for the same.
It has a history of service to the nation, so to demonise AMU and its students and to call them anti-nationals and gaddar (traitors) is an insult to every student, past and present, of the esteemed institution.
Mohammad Sajjad, a professor in AMU, feels this is being done to stoke passions as the Kairana by-election is round the corner.
Too busy to read? Listen to it instead.
On Wednesday, as a storm raged outside, a storm raged in my head too as I started receiving photos of injured AMU students. All kinds of reports were being given about what happened and I was extremely upset at the visuals of bleeding and injured students. My initial response, on Twitter, was to demand safety of the students.
Soon, AMU alumni and present students started to respond on the same thread:
Here, I am not even going into the abuse I was subjected to. Tarique Anwer who graduated from AMU in 2004 said:
Irfanullah Farooqi, a professor at AMU, said:
There was a lot of confusion with people saying that the Hindu Yuva Vahini was burning an effigy of Jinnah, and students objected to it, so I spoke to Sharjeel Usmani, an undergraduate student at AMU, who was witness to the protests. Despite being injured, he managed to type it all out for me so that there could be clarity.
“They had weapons in their hands, and they reached the entrance of the guesthouse where Hamid Ansari was staying and started firing in the air, while raising other vulgar slogans against AMU and Muslims. All through this, a policeman was with them and he stayed mum while they were doing all this. After hearing gunshots, the students and several members of the students’ union ran towards them, getting hold of six of them who were still armed,” he added.
Further he went on to say, “Meanwhile, Hamid Ansari’s own security also came into action. We called the police and handed over these six people to the police. The police released those six men without even questioning them. They didn’t even take them to the police station. Later, the police denied lodging an FIR. The students sat at AMU’s main entrance in protest, demanding the arrest of those six men and an FIR to be lodged. The police refused to comply. The RAF was called in, following which students were lathi-charged and tear gas shells were used on them.”
Hamid Ansari himself refused to say anything on the matter, calling it a “nonsense issue”. The General Body Meeting of the Students’ Union, AMU, has decided to file a petition against the police and district administration in the Allahabad High Court. The AMU teachers’ association has released an appeal to students:
As a third generation AMU alumni, I can only pray that the law of the land prevails; that the guilty are punished and students are allowed to study and take their exams which are just around the corner.
(Rana Safvi is the founder and moderator of the popular #shair platform on Twitter, which is credited for reviving popular interest in Urdu poetry. She tweets @iamrana. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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