Editor’s note: Jamia Millia Islami University’s recent invitation to Prime Minister Modi to be the chief guest at this year’s convocation ceremony has triggered a strong reaction, especially from the alumni of the University. The primary reason behind this agitation seems to be the attack that Modi had launched at Jamia back in 2008. After the Batla house encounter, while addressing a gathering in Gujarat, he had said, “There is a university in Delhi called Jamia Millia Islamia. It has publicly announced that it will foot the legal fee of terrorists involved in act. Go drown yourself. This Jamia Millia is being run on government money and it is daring to spend money on lawyers to get terrorists out of jail. When will this vote bank politics end?”
The alumni have penned an open letter addressed to the vice-chancellor demanding that the University withdraw the invitation extended to the PM.
Prof. Talat Ahmad,
Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi-25
Subject: Request to withdraw invitation sent to Mr. Narendra Modi to address annual convocation
We, the ex-students of Jamia Millia Islamia, are writing to you to express our deep anguish and grief on your invitation to Mr. Narendra Modi to be the chief guest at annual convocation. We are anguished and shocked because, he is along with his party members, have been constantly involved in spreading rumors and hatred about Jamia Millia Islamia.
Let us share with you a video of September 2008 of Mr. Modi, in which he can be clearly seen misleading people during an election rally in Gujarat. We say, “rumors and hatred” because, his implied claim that, by providing legal aid to its students accused of being terrorists, Jamia is protecting terrorists, is nothing but a bunch of lies and totally based on the intention to target a particular community (do we need to name it?) and defame Jamia.
The simple fact is that, public or Jamia money, as claimed by Mr. Modi and his party members, was never used for providing legal aid to the students, who are yet to be proved guilty of anything, forget about the charge of terrorism. Jamia records will tell you that, if any money was used towards legal aid for the students, it was money from student welfare fund and amount collected by the students from the people of Jamia Nagar.
As far as the statement and stand by then VC and his act of standing by its students are concerned, we firmly believe that it was the need of the hour and by doing so he only fulfilled his duty as the vice chancellor of the University. It was a very courageous and prudent step on his part. We can say so with a great degree of confidence because many of us were students or fresh graduates of Jamia at that point of time and there was a vicious campaign going on to tarnish the image of Jamia.
This led to an environment, where every student of Jamia or its ex-student was seen with suspicion of being a potential terrorist. To understand the gravity of the situation, we would request you to go through the archives of newspapers, magazines and news bulletins of that time apart from the convocation address of 2008, delivered by late U. R. Ananthamurthy.
Believe us, had the then vice chancellor, Prof. Mushirul Hasan not taken the stand he took and to which Mr. Modi is referring in his speech, the situation would have even been worse. Moreover, despite clarifications from Jamia authorities, Mr. Modi never apologized for misleading people. Not only that, his party and its prominent members (not ‘fringe elements’) vilified Jamia and still continue doing so to further their divisive agenda. You may recall that in December 2008 Delhi assembly elections, BJP put out an advisement with the title “Jamia University funds to defend terror accused”. This, despite the fact that the then VC made it clear time and again that it is not true.
We remember, none less than the Election commission taking notice of it and stating, “The Vice Chancellor of the Jamia University has categorically stated that no fund of the institute was being used for the alleged purpose and that the students of the University were themselves raising funds,” the EC said. But even that did not put an end to the vilification campaign against Jamia. Last year, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, BJP senior leader, V K Malhotra said, “Jamia, Batla safe houses for terrorists.”
Sir, we can share with you many such statements and instances through which they have tried to defame Jamia on regular basis. We wonder what message you want to convey by inviting the person who has been part of all this. You may argue that, we have not invited him as a member of a particular party but as the Prime Minster of India. You are right, but partially. Because today none other than Mr. Modi is the face of the party and the government. We are sure, you have heard of the slogan, “Abki baar Modi Sarkar”.
We have a very simple request to you, withdraw the invitation because given Mr. Modi’s track record, he does not deserve to address annual convocation. Or at least ask him to render a public apology about his own malicious and incorrect statement before he attends the convocation.
Looking forward to a positive response.
Ex-students of Jamia
Narendra Modi’s address post the Batla House encounter:
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