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'Jinnah is an excuse to win 2019 polls'

May 05, 2018 11:27 IST

'Nobody in AMU supports Jinnah's two-nation theory.'
'It is shameful we are debating Jinnah and not education or employment.'

IMAGE: Aligarh Muslim University students protest at the gates of the university campus. Photograph: PTI Photo

On Wednesday, May 2, a row was triggered over Mohammed Ali Jinnah's portrait at the Aligarh Muslim University.

Following protests and violence, Internet services were suspended on Friday, May 4, in Aligarh district.

Bharatiya Janata Party MP Satish Gautam flagged off the controversy when he wrote to AMU raising objections to the Jinnah portrait.

Portraits of all life members of the students union, the university pointed out, were displayed and Jinnah, a founder member of the university court, had been accorded this honour long before Partition.

"The trouble did not occur due to Jinnah's portrait. The trouble occurred because of former vice president Hamid Ansari's visit to AMU. That photo was just an excuse," Maskoor Ahmad Usmani, president, Aligarh Muslim University Students Union, tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.

 

What seems to be the problem at AMU?

People belonging to the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) came to the university on Wednesday and tried to instigate the students.

They chanted slogans like 'Agar desh mein rehna hai toh Ram Ram kehna hai (If you want to stay in India, then chant Ram Ram).' They did it on the day when Hamid Ansari, the former vice president of India, visited AMU.

We had invited him and they shouted slogans against him.

The saffron goons got illegal weapons into the university, beat up the security guards and students.

Didn't the problem occur because of Jinnah's portrait in AMU?

The trouble did not occur due to Jinnah's portrait.

The trouble occurred because of Hamid Ansari's visit. That photo was just an excuse.

Wasn't the issue triggered by Jinnah's portrait in AMU, as Satish Kumar Gautam, the BJP MP from Aligarh, has claimed?

He is diverting the issue by bringing up Jinnah's portrait. It is a non-issue and he is trying to make an issue out of it.

When we went to file an FIR with the police against the saffron goons, our complaint was not lodged.

I was beaten up very badly by the police.

This is the first time in AMU history that students were beaten. The police should not have attacked us. We want a judicial inquiry.

Don't we have right to file an FIR? Don't we have democratic rights?

Right now 10,000 students are protesting inside the campus.

What is your demand?

We want an FIR (first information report) filed against all the saffron goons and they must be arrested.

Hamid Ansari has 'Z' (class) security and his security too was breached.

He was our guest and he was not given security, therefore, these saffron goons entered the university.

IMAGE: Uttar Pradesh police personnel deployed outside the AMU gates during the students' protest. Photograph: PTI Photo

Why do these "saffron goons", as you call them, have a problem with Hamid Ansari?

He was the vice president of India and a former student of AMU, which they do not like.

You are now spinning another story altogether. I read your statement where you clearly say you will not remove Jinnah's portrait from AMU.

The Aligarh Muslim University Students Union is an autonomous body and we have said that for historical fact this photo of Jinnah has to be preserved.

This picture has been put up 80 years ago. In the last two days, this controversy has been created unnecessarily by BJP MP Satish Kumar Gautam as he has not done any work in this constituency.

Jinnah gave the two nation theory and divided the nation. I do not support his ideology, but for historical preservation his photo has been put up, so let it be there. It is wrong to define nationalism in this manner.

The 2019 elections are coming and therefore he wants to polarise voters and communalise the situation.

Jinnah ek bahaana hai, Aligarh Muslim University nishaana hai aur 2019 mein BJP ko vote paana hai (Jinnah is an excuse to target AMU and win the 2019 elections).

Javed Akhtar says AMU must remove Jinnah's portrait.

We have not put up Jinnah's photo. The AMU students union is an autonomous body and Jinnah was a life member of that students union. Therefore, his photo has been put up. There is no other reason.

Mahatma Gandhi's photo has been put up, so also Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar's.

The BJP is trying to dilute the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes Act and tomorrow they can say that they want to remove Dr Babasaheb's picture, too.

So shall we start removing it?

Jinnah house is in Mumbai, why don't they remove that?

(Uttar Pradesh minister) Swami Prasad Maurya has said 'Jinnah was a great freedom fighter.'

I say this clearly: Jinnah gave the two-nation theory and divided the nation. I do not support his ideology, but for historical preservation his photo has been put up, so let it be there.

It is wrong to define nationalism in this manner. Where is our country heading?

You insist on not removing Jinnah's portrait. However, you won't allow RSS member Ameer Rashid to open a shakha on the AMU campus. Why?

They never participated in the freedom movement.

(Vinayak Damodar) Savarkar, whom they call 'Veer', was an accused in Mahatma Gandhi's killing.

You are wrongly accusing Savarkar. He was acquitted of the charge of killing Gandhiji.

But he was an accused. You cannot deny that. And you tell me which organisation did Nathuram Godse belong to?

History shows us the RSS was banned thrice in India. This is the same RSS that wants to rewrite history.

There are black and white chapters in history and whatever happened in history cannot change.

For 70 years nobody must have noticed Jinnah's portrait in AMU. Now someone has noticed it. So why can't you remove it?

Even now nobody saw it. They just want to target AMU and therefore they are doing all this in the name of Jinnah.

Sometimes they want to remove Jinnah's portrait, sometimes they want to open an RSS shakha, and sometimes they want to protest against Hamid Ansari.

They are doing it intentionally.

Why would they oppose Mr Ansari?

Some false rumours of Ansari's statements were circulated by these saffron goons and therefore they came to protest against him.

IMAGE: AMU students will boycott classes for the next two days as part of their protest. Photograph: PTI Photo

It is alleged that the BJP wants to change the character of AMU by diluting its Muslim ethos. Is that true?

Non-Muslim students make up 40 per cent of the population at AMU. It is wrong to say only Muslims study at AMU.

Is Jinnah's portrait that important for you?

Jinnah is not important, but history is.

His photo is in the central hall and it has been preserved for many years.

If the BJP wants to remove his portrait, then they must change the name of Jinnah's house in Mumbai too.

After Jinnah died, Parliament mourned his death for two minutes. Why did they do that?

There is a photograph of Jinnah in the Nehru Museum (New Delhi).

In India, there are many books where Jinnah's photo is published. Remove all pictures of Jinnah in India, only then will we remove Jinnah's portrait from AMU.

We will not remove Jinnah's portrait on someone's order. We don't need diktats.

If the government wants to remove Jinnah's picture, let them bring a law on this issue.

Remove all British photos and statues also, as they looted India for 200 years.

If they want to change history, let them change everything.

Doesn't this come across as AMU students supporting Jinnah by not removing his portrait?

Nobody in AMU is supporting Jinnah's two-nation theory. It is very clear.

I have said this many times. But nobody can dictate terms to us.

AMU students are getting beaten up because of Jinnah.

Students are not getting beaten up because of Jinnah's photo. They are getting beaten up because they were supporting Hamid Ansari.

The students demanded that these saffron goons must be arrested for protesting against Hamid Ansari and causing trouble in AMU, but the police did not register an FIR against them.

Forty students are still admitted in hospital. I was beaten up and my mobile was broken.

Democracy is being killed in India. I want (Prime Minister Narendra D) Modi and (UP Chief Minister Ajay Singh Bisht aka) Yogi Adityanath to talk on education, not on Jinnah.

Why you don't remove the Jinnah portrait and end the controversy?

Why should we remove (the portrait) when someone is dictating to us?

Tomorrow they will change the name of AMU. They are targeting us purposely.

I believe the Jinnah portrait has been removed.

No, it has not been removed.

The university was being painted and so all the photos were removed.

Now all the photos are back, so Jinnah's photo too has come back.

As president of the AMU students union, shouldn't you educate students on future job prospects and employment opportunities rather than get into the Jinnah issue?

I agree. I am saying the same thing to the government.

It is shameful we are debating Jinnah and not education or employment. The government wants to divert attention by bringing up such issues.

If you remove Jinnah's portrait, this issue will die.

Tomorrow, you will tell me to allow the RSS shakha and that will be the end of the issue.

Next day you will come and say put up a VHP shakha, then that too will end the issue.

Till when you will go on?

Is this how the law in this country works?

Bring a law that Jinnah's photo cannot be displayed. We will remove his photo everywhere.

We condemn Partition. The BJP brought Jinnah alive with this AMU controversy.

This is their job. They always bring dead people alive to provoke us.

But why do you get provoked?

We only want action against the people who attacked AMU. The government must set up a judicial inquiry on this matter.

Till that time, our struggle will continue.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf / Rediff.com