AMU: Students oppose invitation extended to Modi as Chief Guest
The Aligarh Muslim University has turned 100 years old and to mark the occasion, an invitation was sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who accepted it. This development, however, has sparked a tug of war between teachers and students. While the faculty said the centenary celebrations should not be affected by differences, some students don't want him as the chief guest on December 22.
PM Modi's address is historic in many ways — he would be the first sitting PM to attend AMU's event since 1964 (when Lal Bahadur Shastri gave a convocation speech); he has never attended any occasion of the varsity ever. Reports said he could also release a commemorative stamp. Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, another attendee, said PM's presence will help in the placements of students.
AMU's Vice-Chancellor Professor Tariq Mansoor was pleased that PM Modi agreed to grace the occasion, albeit virtually. "A centenary is a landmark in the history of any university. The entire AMU community and I are grateful to the PM for accepting our invitation," V-C Mansoor said. A report in TOI claimed PM Modi might inaugurate a new campus gate.
To note, 12 senior-most members of the faculty also want the celebrations to be smooth, hence, they released a statement seeking cooperation from all the stakeholders. "We need to work together in the interest of the university. We appeal to everyone to celebrate the centenary program above politics...centenary celebrations are to be kept above differences," the faculty members underlined.
"Our unity on the occasion will bring greater confidence among various university units and alumni associations, who are engaged in organizing programs with illustrious people as guests," the statement went on.
Meanwhile, a number of students have been staunchly protesting the invitation. AMU has often been targeted by BJP and like-minded organizations. In December 2019, after the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed, hundreds of AMU students and teachers protested against it. They claimed the law should be repealed as it would disenfranchise millions of Muslims. The protest took violent colors too, and the varsity was closed.
A research scholar, Deeba Niyazi, reminded of police excesses at AMU and Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University during CAA protests. She said police used batons, tear gas on students, and even thrashed those studying in the library. "Will the Modi government tender an apology for the gruesome incident and assure that it will not take place in any other campus ever?" she told NewsClick.
Separately, former President of Aligarh Muslim University Students' Union, Maskoor Ahmad Usmani, asked if PM Modi will initiate a probe against atrocities meted out to students. "It is all in the public domain; the many instances PM Modi and the Bharatiya Janta Party demonized AMU and aided the impunity of nefarious elements, including the state police, to orchestrate atrocities against its students," he said.
Another student, named Ravish Ali Khan, said he will read his 'funeral prayer' (namaz-e-janaza) if V-C doesn't withdraw the invitation. "We may show him black flags if he does not support the Muslim community or talk about minority character of our varsity," another postgraduate student told TOI. But a senior official hoped PM Modi's presence will send a message to BJP's members who keep attacking the institution.