Inside AMU, ‘Hindu Khatre Mein Hai’: BJP’s Clever Election Ploy
AMU controversy is nothing but a time-tested election agenda for a desperate BJP.
Yesterday 14 students of Aligarh Muslim University were booked under sedition for allegedly shouting pro-Pakistan slogans after a fracas between AMU students and Republic TV Crew. The students of AMU alleged that the Republic TV journalist said “we are in the University of Terrorists”, while the said journalist denied those allegations. Those 14 students were booked for sedition on the complaints of a BJP Yuva Morcha leader. This is not the first time that AMU is in news for all wrong reasons. The university has been in midst of controversy for a long time now.
In May 2017 BJP supporter and Delhi High Court advocate Prashant Patel’s tweet “In Aligarh Muslim university hostels, Lunch, Breakfast is not being served to Hindu students due to #Ramadan”, lead to massive uproar in both media and social media, attacking the university for being “anti-Hindu”. These charges were later denied by several Hindu students and proved to be false.
Exactly a year after this incident, AMU got embroiled in another controversy. In May 2018, AMU was all over in news over what the mainstream media called the “Jinnah Row”. involving a portrait of Mohammed Ali Jinnah in the university union hall. The cavalcade of former Vice President of India Hamid Ansari was attacked by the members of Hindu Yuva Vahini, when he was due to give a talk in AMU. Then, too, AMU was being painted as pro-Pakistani.
Ever since the said “Jinnah Row”, there have been several attempts by the Hindutva forces to push AMU into a communal conflict zone. Following this incident some Hindu organizations raised provocative and communally-charged slogans in Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, accusing the university of intimidating and victimizing Hindu students.
Soon afterward when Manan Wani, an AMU research scholar was killed by the security forces in an encounter in Kashmir, AMU again got embroiled in controversy. It was alleged that a few Kashmiri students held a funeral prayer for Manan Wani. Several of them were charged with sedition.
Muslim Sounds ‘Harsh’ To BJP Ears
Since November last year, BJP MP Satish Gautam—who is also a member of the AMU court— has been repeatedly asking for dropping the word ‘Muslim’ from AMU. In an interview given to a news portal, he said that the word ‘Muslim’ sounds harsher than ‘Hindu’. He wrote a letter to the Vice Chancellor of University titled “Talibani Mansikta se chal raha hai Aligarh Muslim Vishwavidyalaya’’, and accused the University community of supporting ‘anti-national and anti-government’ activities.
On the eve of Republic Day, a group of AMU students under the leadership Ajay Singh, the grandson of a BJP legislator, took out a Trianga Yatra on motorbikes in the campus. The AMU administration served show cause notice to those students as no permission was sought for the bike rally. Again, there were attempts in social media to spin the administrative issue into an anti/nationalist issue.
Few days ago the BJP Yuva Morcha demanded the construction of a temple inside the AMU campus and threatened to star the construction if their demand was not met within 15 day.
Prior to this, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath had attacked the Minority University for not giving reservation to SC/ST students, a charge which reeks of hypocrisy as BJP government at center has lead a full throttle attack on existing reservation policy.
BJP’s Bid To Remove Minority Status
It must be brought into attention here that the striping of minority status from both the universities has been the agenda of BJP government since 2016. The Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot, asserted in April 2018 that the Narendra Modi government is committed to the removal of minority status from both the Universities in order to “restore reservation for SC/ST in both the universities”.
This attack on AMU & JMI’s minority status must be seen in the context of the 2014’-15 All India Survey on Higher Education report which noted that Muslim representation in Higher education was worse than that of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe. According to the report, the percentage of Muslims in higher education was mere 4.5% as compared to their population of 14 %. The Sacchar Committee in 2006 had already noted the worsening socio-economic condition of Muslim community.
Hindu Victimhood As Election Strategy
This two-pronged attack on minority institutions, first by creating a narrative of them being anti-national/anti-Hindu through the bogey of “pro-Pakistani slogans being raised”, and then by challenging the minority status of these universities unmasks the farce of the slogan ‘sabka sath sabka vikas’. It also exposes the strong anti-Muslim ideological stance of BJP and the wider Sangh parivar.
It is noteworthy that after losing three states and facing heat over unemployment crisis and Rafael deal, the BJP is not left with many options with general elections being merely weeks away. In this scenario, with alliances taking place in several states and continuing protest over Citizenship Amendment Bill in Northeastern Sates, it is but natural that BJP will try to polarize the populace with their rhetoric of “Hindu Khatre me hai” slogan. The most recent incident in AMU involving Republic TV will only serve as another tool in the arsenal of BJP’s election strategy.
(Harshvardhan Tripathy is a PhD research scholar at JNU. He tweets @chai_pioge. This is a Readers’ Blog and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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