Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi penciled in as the chief guest at the centenary celebrations of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on December 22. However, its students are unhappy with the decision.
Modi will be joining via video link alongside with Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. He will address the programme through video conferencing, Omar Peerzada, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of AMU, said on Wednesday evening.
This is the first time that Modi will participate in an AMU programme. “The vice-chancellor is very grateful to the Prime Minister and education minister for taking out time from their busy schedules to attend the celebration. This is an important day for the university,” Peerzada said in a statement.
The AMU administration has appealed to AMU staffers and students to keep its centenary programme “above politics”. In a letter to the “staff, students and other members of the AMU fraternity”, Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor appealed to “all concerned to keep centenary programme above politics, just as we keep Republic Day, Independence Day, Milad un Nabi, Gandhi Jayanti above differences”.
Meanwhile, the students and the university’s alumni are unhappy with the decision. Former Aligarh Muslim University Student's Union president Maskoor Ahmad Usmani said: “It is important to ponder upon his credibility to be a chief guest of a prestigious instiution of learning. It is all in the public domain; the many instances Modi and the Bharatiya Janta Party demonised AMU and aided the impunity of nefarious elements, including the state police, to orchestrate atrocities against its students.”
“The demand should be simple: just an apology for the statements he has issued against AMU,” he said, mentioning that the NDA government under PM Narendra Modi’s leadership had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that AMU was not a minority institution.
Recalling the police brutality on students during the anti-CAA/NRC protests in campus, Usmani said: “Is he going to initiate an inquiry into the police atrocities meted out to AMU students on several occasions in the past? If he can assure of the same and apologise for his past, he is welcome. Otherwise, I totally stand in solidarity with the students who are protesting against his visit,” he added. The former AMUSU leader also sought Modi’s attention to the holding back of funds to AMU campuses.
Echoing a similar sentiment, Deeba Niyazi, a research scholar at AMU said: “We are not opposing Narendra Modi as a prime minister but opposing his policies, as his party always sows hatred against students and Muslims. Students of AMU along with their counterparts in Delhi's Jamia Milia Islamia have been subject to police excesses during the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act last year. The police used batons and tear gas shells on students. Even those studying in the library were not spared and beaten mercilessly. Will Modi government tender an apology for the gruesome incident and assure that it will not take place in any other campus ever?” she asked.
Deeba added that a number of AMU students were charged with rioting and causing damage to public property and are still haunted by the incident.
It may be recalled that a controversy had also broken out in March 2018, when the varsity students were up in arms against the visit of President Ram Nath Kovind to campus as chief guest for the university’s 65th annual convocation ceremony.