Three days after BJP MP Satish Kumar Gautam wrote to the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) vice-chancellor, stating that it was being run on “Talibani ideology”, the varsity’s students’ union said his comment was “indecent, irresponsible and immoral” and demanded his removal from the AMU court.
In his letter, Gautam had referred to recent controversies such as the hanging of Jinnah’s portrait in the university, the offering of funeral prayers by some Kashmiri students after the death of former PhD scholar-turned-alleged militant Mannan Wani and the putting up of a poster including the Indian map which was allegedly missing parts of Kashmir and the North East.
Students’ Union honorary secretary Huzaifa Amir said he has written to the President of India, requesting him to strip Gautam of his membership from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Court, the supreme governing body of the institution.
One university, many points of contention
Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) campus has been caught in political turbulence over a number of issues, often raised by right-wing organisations. The issue of the varsity displaying a photo of Muhammad Ali Jinnah was taken up in May by top BJP leaders including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The row also resulted in clashes between students and police, and in internet services being suspended in Aligarh for over 24 hours. On October 12, AMU authorities suspended two Kashmiri students for allegedly holding “funeral prayers” after the death of PhD scholar-turned-militant Mannan Bashir Wani in North Kashmir. The students were also booked in a sedition case. Another point of contention, raised by Adityanath on June 24, is over why SC/ST communities are not given reservation in the university. The argument over AMU’s status as a minority institution is perennially on.
“In the last one-and-a-half years, Satish Gautam has been continuously issuing baseless and senseless statements in print and electronic media. His statement are devoid of any fact and it is continuously sullying the image of AMU. Despite being a member of the AMU court, Gautam never spoke about university development and remained involved in cheap publicity,” said Amir, also a member of the court.
The union’s honourary secretary accused Gautam of attempting to gain political mileage by instigating sentiments. “… his actions and sentiments have the potential to breach peace and order at AMU as they are hurting the sentiments of Aligarh fraternity across the globe,” he added.
Amir also said AMU has been accredited with top rankings by various international and national rating agencies and its contributions towards national development are known.
“Such a prestigious university is maligned because of the nefarious designs of people like Satish Gautam. It becomes the duty of a concerned (person) to counter his fake propaganda…” he said.
Responding, Gautam said he had written the letter because the administration had been acting as a “mute spectator”. On the demand raised for his removal as an AMU court member, Gautam said, “The HRD ministry appointed me as a member of the AMU court. Such a letter (sent by Amir) is of no significance. I am raising genuine issues.”
The BJP MP had written the letter a day after AMU issued showcaused the president and secretary of the varsity’s drama club for putting up posters that allegedly included a map of India without Kashmir and the North East.
Titled ‘Talibani Mansikta se chal raha hai Aligarh Muslim Vishwavidyalaya’, the letter stated that the AMU administration had reacted to such a serious matter as if it were a normal incident.
“Nation knows about the ideology at AMU and anti-national and anti-government acts are glorified here… Intazamiya keeps silence over unconstitutional and serious issues and tries to save such elements,” it read.