Updated: November 30, 2015 1:26:51 am
Amid protest by the alumni of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) over the invitation extended to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the convocation ceremony, demand for inviting the PM and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani as “chief guests” at the annual convocation of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is slowly gaining ground. Students, teaching and non-teaching staff and members of the AMU alumni association have started a campaign in support of inviting Modi and Irani for the convocation, which will be held in March next year.
This comes barely three months after the varsity’s Vice Chancellor, Zameer Uddin Shah, had pulled put of an event organised by Modi’s close aide Zafar Sareshwala in Bihar after Shah’s proposed presence at the event “became a talking point on the (AMU) campus” with both students and teachers raising their objection. This time, however, the campaign is “very clear on this front”. “We are requesting the students and the staff that they may be against the BJP but we should not be against the government.
Modi is our Prime Minister and Smriti Irani is the minister of the HRD, which governs our university. If they come to the campus, many of our problems that are pending will be solved,” Pervez Siddiqui, a student of Masters in Tourism Administration and involved with the campaign, told The Indian Express. The recorded voice messages will be delivered to the AMU administration and to the HRD ministry. “We have already collected nearly 100 such messages and the number is increasing every day,” Pervez said. Another student pointed out to the AMU’s Kishanganj centre, which is strapped for funds and reportedly hasn’t received any money from the Centre.
“If Irani comes to the campus, we can explain our problem and she can solve it,” the student said, even as several others — Abdul Khaliq Kamil, a research scholar in Arabic; Shahid Ahmed, a student of MCom — echoed the sentiment while confirming that they have joined the campaign and recorded their messages. Traditionally, chief guests at AMU, if they are part of the government, often announce assistance and new projects for the campus.
The varsity’s alumni, meanwhile, have started their own campaign, with members exchanging emails among each other garnering support for the invitation to Modi and Irani, days after JMI in Delhi came under controversy over the invitation extended to the PM. Dr Jasim Mohammad, who heads the Forum for Muslim Studies and Analysis, said, “We will impress Modi by traditional welcome and he will be able to closely understand Muslim culture in a better way. His presence at the AMU will send more than one positive message silencing those who are against its historic tradition and culture.
AMU will also get funds and grants which it badly needs,” Jasim said. He added that their campaign is trying to reach out to more alumni. “We are approaching other alumni to push for our demand. We are getting a good response. We will take this campaign to other alumni groups and forward our request to the AMU administration and also to the Prime Minister’s Office.”
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