Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor today told students on a sit-in over the Jinnah portrait row to get back to their studies, but his plea went unheeded.
In an open letter to the students, he urged them “not to fall into the trap of certain forces which are bent upon destroying the image of our alma mater and are playing with your bright future”.
The university has formed a 16-member coordination committee of senior faculty members to talk with the protesting students.
The VC asked the students to not to let their studies suffer when the exams are round the corner.
The exams, postponed because of the unrest on the campus, are now set to begin on May 12.
Several AMU students are on an indefinite dharna after a clash with the police on May 2 when they were demanding action against right-wing protesters who had entered the campus, shouting slogans.
They are asking for a judicial probe into the “police inaction” and the manner in which a row erupted after a BJP MP objected to the portrait of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, hanging over decades at the AMU student union office.
The VC “fully endorsed” the students’ demand for a judicial inquiry and also denounced the “excessive use of force” by the police.
But in his letter, he also urged the students to stay calm and focus on their studies and their careers.
The VC said he was pained that some sections of the media, including television channels, were using “half truths” to project a negative image of the university.
“The AMU is suffering an assault from different quarters and it is even more important to respond with rationality and thoughtful action and not to be swayed by emotions,” he said.
But rejecting his appeal, AMU student union leaders today made it clear that their dharna would continue till their demands are met.
Student union president Mashqoor Usmani told reporters that their three main demands are a judicial enquiry into the May 2 violence, booking those who trespassed into AMU campus under the National Security Act and action against police personnel responsible for the lathi-charge on them.
Amid tension on May 2, a function to grant life membership of the student union to former vice president Hamid Ansari was called off and he returned to Delhi.
The university said portraits of all life members of the student union are put up on the walls of its office. Jinnah had also been given this honour before Partition.
AMU students alleged that the protesters were from the Hindu Yuva Vahini, and were allowed to leave a police station after being initially detained.
Later, two youths wanted in connection with the violence were arrested by the police.