The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is a centre of excellence which has produced great stalwarts over the years – people who have vehemently contributed to the progress of the nation, be it in the country’s freedom struggle or its representation in global affairs. But today, AMU finds itself once again amidst controversy.
In order to undermine its shortcomings in combating national issues, the present BJP government has been trying to find disguised loopholes in universities – be it the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia or Hyderabad University. This is because universities are the centres of free thinking.
The political agenda which is being propagated by means of television and social media is misguiding and grossly one-sided, to say the least. They have falsely made it seem like AMU is harbouring a pro-Jinnah ideology. The real picture is that the protests are meant to condemn the brutal assault on innocent students by the police.
These students were beaten just for trying to protect the university and its reputation from goons, who were identified as members of the right-wing Hindu Yuva Vahini. The members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini had stormed inside the campus, flashed pistols and threatened the students. It is not the first time that such anti-social elements have tried to malign the peaceful environment of universities.
It all started on the afternoon of May 2, when former Vice- President of India, Hamid Ansari was present in the university campus. He was being felicitated as a lifetime member of the AMU Students Union, an honour awarded to people who have contributed to nation-building. Previous recipients include Mahatma Gandhi, CV Raman and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. This very honour was given to Mohammad Ali Jinnah in 1938 for his contribution to the freedom struggle and every honorary’s portrait (including Jinnah’s) is kept in the AMUSU hall as a tribute.
The baffling thing is that the portrait has been there for the past 80 years and no one made any fuss over it. Now that the elections are around the corner, suddenly the portrait of Jinnah has acquired a new importance. This raises an alarming question as to why the government keeps raising such issues when more important issues are yet to be addressed.
One of the main reasons for creating distractions by tarnishing the image of such universities is to suppress the voices of the students of these institutions which are the only few spaces left in the country where free-thinking is promoted and propagated.
It is evident from the fact that student leaders from these universities have been actively raising their voices against issues which actually affect people like unemployment, the alarming rate of rapes, etc. Using divisive politics is one way to distract people from real issues and divide students on the basis of religion and caste to break the existing unity in diversity.
The future of this unity in diversity lies upon the ability of common people to differentiate between what is right and wrong. People need to be able to make out whether AMU is actually trying to protect Jinnah’s ideology or simply preserving past heritage, whether AMU is trying to support the two-nation theory or the government is trying to befool the common masses by taking their attention away from our country’s burning issues.
The answer lies within you and depends on whether you want to get swayed away by the false propaganda being highlighted by the media. I hope that this question is not left unanswered.