Sharp Hindu-Muslim divide in Aligarh over May 2 campus gate trouble, situation tense as both threaten to increase agitation pitch

The stalemate at Aligarh Muslim University continues, even as examinations started in the campus as scheduled from today. The AMU students were allegedly attacked by the police along with supporters of the right-wing group, Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) at the main gate of the campus on May 2 over a row related to a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah inside AMU.

Students of the Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union (AMUSU) threatened to go on a hunger strike if their demands are not met with within 24 hours of placing them before the district collector. The HYV and other right wing outfits too threatened to increase their agitation pitch if action was not taken by the police against those they have named in the FIR.

AMU students have been taking turns for the sit-in demonstration at the campus gate. At least 8,000 out of the 32,000 students are demonstrating near the main gate of the campus, some of them with their text books and are studying because the examinations are on and will continue till June 5.

While the AMU students have named 17 persons in their FIR and 30 unknown persons, the right-wing groups have named six persons in their FIR and 150 unknown persons.

Mohd Fahad, honorary secretary of AMUSU, who was injured in the May 2 attack, said that students are holding agitation demanding action against those who attacked them. They are also demanding action against the policemen who allegedly beat them up and against BJP MP Satish Gautam, whom they allege has been instigating some people to create trouble.

Coordinator of the Dharm Jagran Samity (which is a unit linked with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) Saurabh Chaudhary, meanwhile, told The Bengal Story from Aligarh that on May 2, he was part of a group that had burnt an effigy of Muhammad Ali Jinnah outside the AMU.

“It is the AMU students who attacked us. The police have wrongly arrested our men, but none of the AMU students fearing their agitation may grow stronger. We demand arrest of the AMU students against whom we have lodged complaint,” he said.

Chaudhary claimed some non-Muslim students were being harassed inside the AMU campus by the Muslim students. He said some students have brought it to the notice of the police. Ajay Kumar Sahni, the Aligarh SP could not be contacted, but Atul Kumar Srivastava, SP (city) who is handling the case, said there had been no complaint about such harassment.

Chaudhary said there was no place for Jinnah in India. “He divided the country, and therefore his portrait should be removed.” But why would the right-wing supporters get arrested if they hadn’t been involved in the clash, and also considering that the Muslims have been consistently under attack in the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh? Chaudhary, a student of Dharam Samaj Mahavidyalaya, Aligarh, said their men were arrested as police feared attacks from AMU students.

Asked whether the volatile atmosphere in Aligarh was a prelude to the 2019 Parliamentary elections, Chaudhury, a student leader, said: “We have nothing to do with politics. This is not a political issue either. Had it been so, Modiji and Yogiji would have commented on it.”

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has, in fact, said that there is no question of celebrating Muhammad Ali Jinnah in India.

Asked how the police were planning to handle the increasingly volatile situation in Aligarh, Srivastava did not want to comment. “All I can say is that investigations are on,” he said.


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