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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh University to come up in Aligarh soon — who was the Jat king?

An alumnus of AMU, Raja Mahendra Pratap was a Marxist revolutionary and social reformer. Born in a royal family in 1886 in the Hathras District of Uttar Pradesh, Raja Mahendra Pratap was an active participant in politics since his early age.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
September 8, 2021 3:54:36 pm
AMU has a photograph of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh in its main library, the Maulana Azad Library. (Express file photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for a university in Aligarh district on September 14, nearly two years after its formation was announced by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Named after Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, the university will be built on 92.27 acres of land in the village of Lodha in the district’s Kol tehsil.

Who is Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh?

An alumnus of AMU, Raja Mahendra Pratap was a Marxist revolutionary and social reformer. Born in a royal family in 1886 in the Hathras District of Uttar Pradesh, Raja Mahendra Pratap was an active participant in politics since his early age. He also took part in the Balkan War in 1911 along with his fellow students at the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental Collegiate School which later on became Aligarh Muslim University. Though he did not complete his graduation, he was felicitated during the centenary celebrations of the university in 1977.

Raja Mahendra Pratap was also deeply involved with the Swadeshi movement and would constantly promote small industries with indigenous goods and local artisans. Deeply influenced by the speeches of Dadabhai Naoroji, Bal Gangadhar Tilak among others, Mahendra Pratap started the movement to burn the foreign-made clothes in his state.

Pratap also visited foreign countries in an attempt to obtain support for India in its struggle for freedom. He also visited a military camp near the Polish border in order to gain knowledge about the army policies and its functioning.

During the World War I, in 1915, Pratap established the first Provisional Government of India in Afghanistan and declared himself as the President and declared a jihad against the colonial rule. He had soon become a threat to the Britishers who had announced a bounty on his head. He fled to Japan and continued his movement from there.

A believer in Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence policy, Pratap also established Prem Maha Vidyalaya (the college of love), a one of its kind polytechnic institution in his palace in Vrindavan. The college offered courses like carpentry, metalworking, pottery and textiles, all under one roof. He also believed that whole world is one family and that expenditures reduced from police and armed forces can be used for developing the countries. He also encouraged Panchayat Raj as a tool that can help in putting the real power in the hands of common man and reduce corruption.

He was nominated for Noble Peace Prize in 1932. “Pratap gave up his property for educational purposes, and he established a technical college at Vrindavan. In 1913 he took part in Gandhi’s campaign in South Africa. He travelled around the world to create awareness about the situation in Afghanistan and India. He was primarily on an unofficial economic mission on behalf of Afghanistan, but he also wanted to expose the British brutalities in India. He called himself the servant of the powerless and weak,” his nomination read.

While Mahendra Pratap Singh played an active role in the freedom struggle of India, he was elected to Parliament in 1957 by defeating Bharatiya Jana Sangh (which later converted into BJP) candidate Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Lok Sabha polls.  He died in 1979.

Did he donate land to the AMU?

According to the University, Raja Mahendra Pratap ‘did lease 1.221 hectares (3.04 acres) of land in 1929 at Rs. 2/- per annum to AMU’. However, the University says, ‘the bulk of the land was procured from the British Government which was in the process of closing down the Aligarh ‘Chhawani’ (Cantonment) from which Sir Syed got 74 acres’. Besides him, there were a large number of other donors.

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