AMU Jinnah portrait row: Right-wing students wanted to target Hamid Ansari, says AMUSU

AMU Jinnah portrait row: In a complaint to the police (The Indian Express has seen a copy), AMUSU alleged that 20 to 25 people of right-wing students’ outfits from other colleges entered the campus, raising slogans against Ansari.

Written by Abhinav Rajput | Aligarh | Updated: May 5, 2018 9:05:24 am
AMU protesters wanted to target Hamid Ansari, says AMUSU Aligarh Muslim University students stage protest on Friday. (Express photo by Pallav Bhuyan)

A group of students who had entered Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) campus on Wednesday to protest against display of a portrait of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the varsity students’ union office were looking to target former Vice President Hamid Ansari, who was on campus at the time, according to the AMU Students’ Union (AMUSU).

In a complaint to the police (The Indian Express has seen a copy), AMUSU alleged that 20 to 25 people of right-wing students’ outfits from other colleges entered the campus, raising slogans against Ansari.

Read | Internet services suspended in Aligarh

AMU protesters wanted to target Hamid Ansari, says AMUSU AMUSU secretary Mohammad Fahad, who was injured in the clashes, alleged that the police entered the campus along with the protesting crowd. (Express Photo/Pallav Bhuyan)

Ansari was in the AMU guesthouse, around 100 metres from the clash site. Ansari was scheduled to deliver a speech before being awarded the lifetime membership of AMUSU — in the same room where Jinnah’s portrait is hung.

AMU Teachers’ Association has sent a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind, urging him to “urgently institute” a high-level judicial probe into the incident as it involved a breach in security of former Vice President Hamid Ansari.

Trouble began earlier this week after Lok Sabha MP from Aligarh, Satish Gautam of the BJP, wrote to the AMU vice-chancellor and raised objections to Jinnah’s portrait. AMU maintains that portraits of all life-members of AMUSU, which includes Jinnah, are put up there.

AMUSU secretary Mohammad Fahad, who was injured in the clashes, alleged that the police entered the campus along with the protesting crowd. “The guard at the main gate tried to stop them (but) they were accompanied by police. We came out with 10 or 12 people when we heard the noise and tried to stop them. My hand and leg was injured after the police hit me,” Fahad said on Friday, sitting on a wheelchair.

Read | Does AMU suffer because its middle name is ‘Muslim’?

Aligarh Circle Officer Sandeep Dikshit said the police have asked for CCTV footage of the whole incident — there are cameras on the main gate — and can ascertain what actually happened after viewing the footage.

Husaifa Rashadi, a student of Geography who was also injured in the clashes, alleged that they were lathicharged when “hundreds” of students went to the police station to register an FIR.

A senior police officer said lathicharge had to be carried out since they could not allow such big gathering to enter the police station.

While AMUSU members claimed that more than a dozen members were injured, Saurav Chaudhary, who said he is member of a right-wing students’ outfit but did not identify it, said no one in their group was injured, as they had left the campus soon after they saw trouble brewing. “Around 20 of us had gathered at the university circle to burn Jinnah’s effigy. We saw students coming out with lathis…. The lathicharge took place after we left,” Chaudhary said.

Amit Goswami, with allegiance to “Hinduwadi Sangathan (Hindu group)”, said, “Around 70 of us marched to AMU because we wanted the Jinnah photo be removed. More than a hundred AMU students with swords tried to stop us. They abused us and the police officers.” The police said they are trying to verify the charges.

Meanwhile, Aligarh district administration on Friday blocked internet services and imposed prohibitory orders under CrPC Section 144 in the area to stop circulation of incendiary messages or videos. On Friday evening, students held protests at AMU main gate and demanded arrest of students who had “tried to enter the campus”.

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