Lok Sabha MP from Aligarh Satish Gautam has written to the vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and questioned the presence of a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the university students’ union office.
In a letter to AMU Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor on Monday, the BJP MP stated that he has found out from sources that a picture of the Pakistan founder is displayed in AMU.
According to the letter, which is doing the rounds on social media, Gautam has sought a detailed explanation from the university, justifying the “compulsion” of having Jinnah’s portrait in the university when “he was responsible for the partition of India and Pakistan”, and when “Pakistan continues to trouble India”.
AMU spokesperson Shafey Kidwai said Jinnah was accorded lifetime membership of the AMU students’ union in 1938 during undivided India. He said no one ever raised any objection to Jinnah’s portrait ever since it was put up more than 70 years ago.
The MP said, “After I got information about Jinnah’s portrait in the university union hall, I spoke with the V-C over phone and asked about it. He denied having information about any such portrait. I also sent him a letter by hand and an email, asking the reason behind the portrait of Jinnah. I have proof (photos) of the portrait being in the union hall.”
On Tuesday evening, Gautam said he has not received any reply until now, and he will write to the V-C again if there is no answer by Wednesday.
Stating that the MP should have written to the union instead of the V-C, AMU students’ union president Maskoor Ahmad Usmani said: “We have a clear stance on this. If the government wants us to remove the Jinnah portrait from AMU, it should first remove the Pakistan founder’s name and photos from elsewhere. To begin with, it should rename Jinnah House in Mumbai, from where it is earning money.”
Kidwai said that the portrait hangs in the office of the students’ union, which is not under direct control of the university administration. He said no other Jinnah picture can be found elsewhere on campus — in any department, library or any other building.
Among others who have been lifetime members of the students union, Kidwai added, are Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, C V Raman, C Rajagoplachari, and Morarji Desai.
Mohammad Sajjad, professor of History at AMU, said: “Jinnah’s portrait has been there since 1938. It reminds us of undivided India. It represents both a tragedy and a promise. Jinnah is not the only one responsible for the Partition.”