Clashes over Jinnah portrait at AMU, 41 students injured

Aligarh: 28 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 police station after Hindu groups protested outside the university campus a day ago, when the clash broke out.

Students demanding 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 groups were 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.

Earlier, members of a right-wing organisation had briefly clashed with Aligarh Muslim University students and entered the campus. They were then taken away to a police station from where they were later “rescued” by other protesters, AMU student union members said.

The protesters were agitated over the portrait of the Pakistan founder which a local BJP MP wanted removed. AMU spokesman Shafey Kidwai today defended the portrait, apparently hanging there for decades, saying that Jinnah was a founder of the university and granted life membership of the student union. Traditionally, photographs of all life members are placed on the walls of the student union, he told.

“Jinnah was also accorded life membership of the AMUSU in 1938. He was the founder member of the University Court in 1920 and also a donor, the spokesman said.

He was granted membership before the demand of Pakistan had been raised by the Muslim League,” he said.

The spokesman said no national leader had raised any objection to the photo even after Independence. These included Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, C Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad and Jawaharlal Nehru.

Shafey said AMU student union has a long tradition of granting life membership to prominent people in politics, social and educational fields. Their photographs were a part of the rich heritage of undivided India and no one ever thought of raising this issue before, he said. The first recorded life membership by the student union was the one granted to Mahatma Gandhi on October 29, 1920, he said.