About three months before JNU February 2016 incident in which many students were charged with sedition, Panchajanya – magazine associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), called the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) a “huge anti-national block which has the aim of disintegrating India.” Although many students were charged with sedition charges, attacked on road and in the premise of court, went through relentless media trial; charges still remain to be proved true. Two years on, Delhi Police has been unable to file any charge sheet against the accused students. Many believed that the whole incident was meant to polarize elections. Despite all that communists won the assembly election in Kerala with a whopping majority.
But this time situation is different. Karnataka is not Kerala and AMU is not JNU. Karnataka is perhaps the only southern state where communal polarization can work, and AMU is perhaps not going to get fairer media reporting. Somehow, the whole issue has been turned towards Jinnah who is one of the most divisive characters in the Indian history. Even many liberals have fallen to the bait and they have started to either defend Jinnah or to detach Jinnah from Indian Muslims. Jinnah, according to the students, is not even the issue. And by detaching Jinnah from Muslims, is endorsing the myth that AMU is indeed a Muslim university. In the many debates on the matter of Muslim reservation that I had in the past, people from across political and religious spectrum somehow always brought up AMU, which in fact doesn’t have any Muslim reservation since the year 2005. Some people even claimed that there’s much violence in AMU owing to the large population from a particular community. But, it remains a fact that AMU has much lesser campus violence than other universities like the University of Allahabad. Some time ago, a section of media, incorrectly reported that Hindu students were denied their meals during the month of Ramzan. In another incident in February 2016, then BJP Mayor Shakuntala Bharti led a protest demanding the cancellation of a canteen contract in the campus alleging that the canteen served Beef biryani, a claim which was later proved to be false. These incidents clearly indicate that AMU has been for long a target of Right-wing.
Jinnah, students say, is a part of AMU history and denying that is of no use. Two matters of real concern for the students in the latest AMU row are the attack on students and threatening security to the former Vice President Hamid Ansari, who was there to be, conferred a lifetime membership of the AMU Student Union. On the pretext of protesting about the portrait of Jinnah in the AMU Union Hall, goons of right-wing Hindutva groups entered into the University campus with the weapons and tried to create a ruckus. Students, when they tried to file an FIR, were denied the registration and in the protests that followed, were brutally lathicharged and even tear gas was used.
Around the same time gate of the prestigious St. Stephen’s College Chapel was defaced with the statement, “Mandir yahin banayenge” and an unidentified tomb has been turned into a temple in Delhi’s Safdarganj area. For past few weeks, Muslims are being forced by right-wing groups to stop praying in open in Gurugram area. It is not surprising that all these events are coinciding with the Karnataka’s assembly election where BJP alleges that Jihadis enjoy a free hand under the ruling Congress government. In no way, there would have been attacks on the former Vice President Hamid Ansari but it seems like it was meant to intimidate him.
Many, including this writer, thought that the Student protest against the authorities would subdue under the tremendous pressure, but the students have continued the protest till date. Girls broke the gate of their hostels and joined the protest. Protesting students demand the arrest of the accused and the FIRs against the university students be revoked. On the last Friday during the protest, Muslim students performed their weekly prayer guarded by their non-Muslim mates which shows the real inclusive face of the University. It is a responsibility of the media independent of political influence, to report the incident fairly and not be hijacked in useless Jinnah argument. There should be a real debate whether the attack on the academia should enjoy the government’s patronage. There must be a question on how anyone can be allowed to display arms in the university. The government should be asked that how the security of a former Vice-President was compromised by the Police. Jinnah is not an issue, politicising him for the political purpose is.
Hanzala Aman is a columnist writing for HW News Network. The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of HW News Network or any employee thereof. HW News Network makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.