South Asian Insider
AMU Jinnah portrait row: VC urges students to get back to studies, union rejects plea
The VC urged the students not to let their studies suffer when the exams are round the corner. The exams, which were postponed due to the unrest on the campus, are now set to begin on May 12. Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor on Tuesday urged students on a indefinite dharna over the Muhammad Ali Jinnah portrait row to get back to their studies, but his plea fell on deaf ears. In an open letter to the students today, 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”. A 16-member coordination committee comprising of senior faculty members was formed by the university to talk with the protesting students. The VC urged the students not to let their studies suffer when the exams are round the corner. The exams, which were postponed due to the unrest on the campus, are now set to begin on May 12. Also Read: Does AMU suffer because its middle name is ‘Muslim’? 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 protesting students 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. While ‘fully endorsing’ the students’ demand for a judicial inquiry, the VC also denounced the ‘excessive use of force’ by the police. Also Read: Why Muhammad Ali Jinnah still provokes In his letter today, VC Mansoor urged the students to maintain calm and focus on their studies and their careers. The Vice Chancellor expressed anguish at the ‘half truths’ certain sections of the media, including TV channels, were pedalling 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. The AMU student union leaders, however, rejected his appeal and made it clear that their dharna would continue till their demands are met. Student union president Mashqoor Usmani told PTI 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.
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