AMU violence: BJP-RSS attempt to communalise incident ably foiled

A reason for their failure was that both teachers and students focused on the security and respect that must be accorded to the former VP Hamid Ansari and protection of students who study there

NH Photo by Bhasha Singh
NH Photo by Bhasha Singh

Bhasha Singh

Much has been said about the attack on students by the armed activists of Hindu Yuva Vahini during the visit of former Vice President Hamid Ansari to Aligarh Muslim University and their attempt to politicise the issue on the lines of nationalism. However with both teachers and students of AMU demanding a time-bound investigation by a high court judge into the assault on Ansari and students by the police, the Hindutva forces have not been successful.

A significant reason for their failure was that the teachers and students ensured the focus would be on the security and respect that must be accorded to the former vice president of the country and protection of the students.

For the first time, teachers of the university have handed to the administration a memorandum demanding justice meant to be sent to the President of the country.

The protests saw the participation of a large number of girls. Naba Haseem, president of Aligarh Muslim University’s Women’s College Student’s Union, said the attacks on students have become sharper ever since the Modi government came to power in 2014. “After JNU and BHU, they have now made AMU their target. They are now launching an attack on our freedom of expression. We have come out against this assault and we will not give up before we achieve victory,” Haseem added.

The president of AMU students’ union Maksoor Ahmad, who was severely attacked and is still wheel-chair bound, continues to lead the protest. He said that RSS’ propaganda that mostly Muslims study in AMU is nothing but false, the fact is that about 50% of students, teachers and staff members are non-Muslims. There has never been any instance of communal tension on the campus.

“We are fighting this battle for the dignity and respect of our former Vice President Hamid Ansari. He was our guest. We were giving him the Lifetime Achievement Award. We came forward to protect him. But the way the police assaulted us, and the way a lot of students were injured in this, has deeply annoyed and agitated the students. We were just demanding action against the assaulters. It seems that the police and administration are trying to malign AMU. They are using this situation to polarise the Karnataka elections or the general elections in 2019. But we will not let that happen,” said Ahmad.

Interestingly, this is the first time the police and the students have clashed. The AMUSU is known to famously get along with the police. However, the association turned rocky with the arrival of the new ASP. In fact, the entire campus is full of posters indicating the new ASP’s relationship with the RSS.

On April 30, ASP Rajesh Pande (who had been transferred) was a guest of the students’ union and was gifted a portrait of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of AMU.

Kamran, a BA first year student, believes that the BJP and RSS are bent upon maligning the image of the university. “They are playing with our future,” he said. The vice president of the students’ union Sajjad Subhan says that the role of the ASP and the Aligarh BJP MP Satish Kumar Gautam in the entire controversy is shameful. It is good that the city of Aligarh deftly foiled the communal maneuvering of the BJP and RSS.

The Secretary of AMU Teachers’ Association Prof Nazrul Hasan said that they came out in favour of the students because the students of AMU have never before been lathicharged so brutally. The students’ union was organising a programme which was ruined by elements from outside the campus. “It was our duty to protest this assault by outsiders. Instead of stopping them, the police let them do what they wanted. When the students were going to file an FIR against this, they were lathicharged by the police and tear gas shells were lobbed to disperse them. We cannot tolerate this. AMU has a reputation and prestige, we will not let that be tarnished.”

The same was repeated by a teacher of the university, Tanushka Sarvesh, that the BJP and RSS want to reap political benefits by tarnishing the image of AMU. Danish, a Fine Arts student said an FIR should be filed.

AMU PRO Omar said the efforts made to tarnish the image of the university was a very well-planned strategy. “My question is that there are people who are raising doubts about AMU and passing statements like AMU is a mini Pakistan—who are these people, what is their significance, what have they done for the country?”

Madirul Rehman, who has taught in the University, said the BJP and RSS are defaming the university deliberately because of their own insidious thinking. “Jinnah’s photo is merely an excuse. They want to spread the poison of communalism, but AMU is thwarting their intentions,” he added.

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