Over two dozen people were injured when Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students clashed with police on Wednesday. The clash was triggered as police prevented a students’ march against an attempt by activists of RSS affiliate Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM) to storm into the campus earlier in the day. The HJM activists had tried to force the varsity to remove Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait from AMU Students Union hall.
The police resorted to cane-charge and tear gas shelling to disperse the students as they gathered to protest against HJM activists’ alleged assault on the university guards. The attempt to storm into the campus forced cancellation of a function to confer AMU Students Union’s life membership on former Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who was present on the campus. “…around eight to 10 workers claiming to be from some right-wing organisation arrived at the university gates and allegedly tried to force their way into the campus demanding removal of Jinnah’s portrait. The university proctor informed us that the group assaulted the university guards and were trying to enter the campus,” Aligarh SSP Ajay Kumar Saini said.
SP Atul Kumar Srivastava confirmed HJM workers attempted to storm into the campus. He said they raised slogans against Jinnah and torched his effigy before the police chased them away. Srivastava said students gathered on the campus in protest and began moving out. He added the police tried to convince them against moving ahead. “The students got violent and started pelting stones. We then resorted to cane-charge and use of tear gas.” He said 15 students and 12 policemen were injured.
Saini said they would identify those involved in the violence to take action against them. BJP’s Aligarh MP Satish Gautam claimed the portrait was removed. “I want to tell the parents of these students that they should teach their children that they are here to study. I am not going to tolerate hooliganism in Aligarh,” said Gautam, who had raked up the issue by writing to AMU vice-chancellor.
The AMU informed the Centre and the state government about the situation while asking the students to maintain peace. AMU Teachers’ Association (AMUTA) asked the Centre to order an impartial, time-bound judicial inquiry to punish the culprits. It condemned “the deliberate criminal activity” at the University main gate. “Instead of taking action against criminal aggressors, AMU students… were re-victimised by lathi-charge,’’ AMUTA said in a statement.