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Wednesday 8 April 2020

AMU VC meets Rajnath, denies it was about Jinnah row

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New Delhi: Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor on Wednesday met Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss issues concerning the premier academic institution, engulfed in controversy over a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah on its premises, an official said.

Singh assured Mansoor of all help from the Central government in restoring normalcy in the university, the official privy to the meeting said.

Mansoor later told reporters that the meeting was fixed long ago and had nothing to do with the current controversy.

“I have requested the home minister to send Central government officials for the recruitment of students in central services like the engineering service,” he said.

The vice-chancellor said the portrait of the Pakistan founder had been hanging in the AMU students’ union office since 1938 and it was a non-issue.

BJP MP Satish Gautam had written a letter to Mansoor objecting to the portrait, triggering a row that led to two youths being arrested in connection with incidents of violence and exams being postponed to May 12.

The vice-chancellor on Tuesday told students on a sit-in over the issue to get back to their studies.

In an open letter, he urged them “not to fall into the trap of certain forces which are bent upon destroying the image of our alma mater and are playing with your bright future”.

The university has formed a 16-member coordination committee of senior faculty members to talk with the protesting students.

Several AMU students are on an indefinite ‘dharna’ after a clash with the police on May 2 when they were demanding action against right-wing protesters who had entered the campus, shouting slogans.

The Jinnah portrait issue was reportedly raked on May 1, 2018, when a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of parliament (MP) Satish Gautam, in a letter to the Aligarh Muslim University vice-chairman, asked to explain why it displays a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. 

The Aligarh Muslim University students were, however, reportedly not in favour of removing Jinnah’s portrait saying its part of the university’s history as he was given a life membership of the university’s union.

They are asking for a judicial probe into the “police inaction” and the manner in which the row erupted after the BJP MP objected to the portrait.

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