AMU has always been a university of national importance and never has it been discriminated against on the grounds that most of its students belong to minority groups. It has produced loads of students who are proud to call themselves Aligs everywhere in the world.
But things started changing in 2017, soon after Ajay Singh Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Leading BJP politicians and ministers from the started had already been speaking against AMU’s minority status and soon Yogi Adityanath joined the herd and raised the demand of scrapping the AMU’s minority status.
However, things took a violent turn last year with a protest started to remove the photo of Mohammad Ali Jinnah from AMU’s student union building. The controversy behind Jinnah, the honorary member of AMU students union, sparked after BJP MLA Satish Gautam raised the same question.
Following the controversy, BJP-ABVP goons entered the University premises while ex-Vice President of India Hamid Ansari was in the campus.
Fast forward to 2019 and something similar happened a week or so ago when a reporter from Republic TV—an ultra-nationalist news venture—visited the AMU campus. According to the students, the reporter said, “I am reporting from the University of terrorists,” and when the students objected, she and the cameraman got into a tussle with students.
What followed was a violent clash and incidental firing when a group of individuals belonging to ABVP and Hindu Yuva Vahini entered the campus just after Republic TV van left and started vandalizing the premises.
And in a strange turn of events, just after the tussle, Police officers lodged an FIR against 14 students of AMU charging them with sedition. No action was taken yet against the ABVP-HYV protestors.
Students Islamic Organization of India (SIO) and AMUSU were the main attendees of the joint press conference but the ex, as well as current office bearers of AMUSU, were prevented from attending attend the conference.
Syed Azharuddin, General Secretary of SIO, said, “The sedition is a draconian law and can only be applied in cases where the sovereignty and integrity of the Union of India are threatened by violent acts. It is unclear how the law of sedition was applied to a scuffle that happened with a University campus, and that too applied not against the culprits but against the victims. it must be noted that among the 14 students against whom sedition case was filed, some were not even present in Aligarh at the time.”
Mashkoor Ahmad Usmani, the ex AMUSU president, clarified on Wednesday, the day the FIR was lodged, that he was not present on the campus for three days. He further said, “The series of attack on our university before every election is the testimony of their cheap politics. The entry of private media channel and doing coverage without having the permission of university administration and using the derogatory comment for the university and students, shouting and fighting with students raises severe questions.”
He further said, “I request Mr Modi to kindly give tuition classes to Aligarh BJP workers, so that next time they do homework before filing FIR for sedition charges, otherwise you will get exposed like always.”
SIO National Secretary Syed Azharuddin said, “It is also disheartening to see the role played by a national media outlet in these events, which called AMU a University of terrorists and once again tried to provoke an unnecessary controversy around AMU. We believe that such provocative and polarising coverage should be held to account and some semblance of journalistic responsibility and media ethics should be restored.”
It has been quite a strange thing that most of the Indian political leaders—who went along in the name of secularism or “mahagathbandhan”—did not utter a word on the campus fracas at AMU and the consequent case of sedition against 14 AMU students. Most of them spoke after they were pinged on social media.
Jignesh Mewani, independent MLA from Gujarat, wrote on Twitter, a day after the police case, “First they disinvited me in HK arts college, Hemant Shah resigned, then attack Allahabad University’s Richa, now these sedition charges and the dangerous Republic TV lies in #AMU?”
“We must condemn the dadagiri of these Sanghi students & media. Ruining peoples lives, futures!”
Moreover, BSP president Mayawati did not utter a word until pressed. She put a statement about the controversy two days after the fracas happened inside AMU campus. In her statement, Mayawati not only attacked Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh for its action against AMU students, but she also lashed out over Congress government in Madhya Pradesh for slapping NSA against Muslims for a suspected case of cow slaughter.
She said, “Both the parties (Congress and BJP) are working on the agenda of spreading communal hatred and casteism.”
On Sunday night, following the police FIR, police arrested four students from the campus. Following the arrest, AMUSU panellists started protesting at Bannadevi police station of Aligarh.
Later police release three out of four arrested students. The fourth student Talib Ali was presented in court on Monday, where he was ordered to keep under police remand for 14 days.
Following this, AMUSU members with several other students of University sat on protest at the university gate and raised the demand for an early release of Talib Ali. They also said that if police authorities would fail to meet the demand, hundreds of AMU students would give themselves to the police as part of the protest.
Soon after this, Aligarh authorities promised to release Talib at earliest, and protest was called off soon after the announcement.
However, the conditions inside AMU have been tense in recent past. And almost every incident was found related with the Hindu Yuva Vahini—a Hindu young militant outfit founded by Yogi Adityanath—and members and activists of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student’s wing of BJP.
During the fracas within the campus last year, police showed an extremely lenient attitude towards perpetrators belonging to HYV and ABVP. The Police lathi-charged at the AMU students, who were opposing the violence instigated by HYV and ABVP members, injuring many of the AMU students including the then AMUSU representatives.
Following the tussle, AMU students handed over six members belonging to Hindu Yuva Vahini to the police, but police immediately released them without any action or case. The police action trend followed the last week’s event as well, where authorities did not book any fringe elements or the crew from Republic TV but surprisingly booked the students who were opposing the TV channel crew for making derogatory remarks on live television.
In January this year, AMU was dragged once again into controversy when Ajay Singh, a student of LLM and grandson of BJP MLA Dalveer Singh, led a “Tiranga Yatra” inside the campus on bikes without prior permission from the university authority.
While there is nothing wrong with waving Indian flag inside AMU but as University’s proctor pointed at the time, “AMU itself celebrates Republic Day and Independence Day with full passion and lot of cultural programs. Students should join what is already happening instead of trying to create chaos.”
Such bike-Tiranga rallies have proven to be toxic in the past when one such rally created communal violence in Kasganj, western Uttar Pradesh. And such procedures have been the keys of “dialogue” protocol of the BJP.
Soon after the antics of Singh, the BJP Yuva Morcha floated a demand of establishing a temple in AMU premises. Mukesh Singh Lodhi, BJYM district president, wrote to AMU VC Tariq Mansoor to establish a temple inside AMU campus following the agenda of “Sabka Saath-Sabka Vikaas” in 15-days of receiving the letter, otherwise, BJYM will enter the premises and will lay stone for temple construction.
Meanwhile, the things inside AMU are still tense. On February 23, the university’s Disciplinary Committee will hold a meeting regarding actions against the students as per the University’s code of conduct. Students believe that tension could spark again that day.
Faisal Nadeem, a student from AMU, told TwoCircles.net, “Things are mostly silent right now. After the assurance from the authorities that no action would be taken against students, the protest was called off.”
“But students are avoiding to go outside of the campus. Moreover, they are not going into far areas inside the campus to avoid any episode which can be used to harm AMU’s or fraternity’s reputation further,” said Nadeem.