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AMU scraps BJP's bid to hold Jat King's birthday event

Uthar Pradesh: The Aligarh Muslim University on Friday warned of "massive unrest" and chances of "communal conflagration" if "certain elements" went ahead with their plans to celebrate the birth anniversary of Jat leader, Raja Mahendra Pratap, on the campus scheduled Monday next week.

In a letter to Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani, AMU Vice-Chancellor Lt Gen (retd) Zameer Uddin Shah has said that the "political gamesmanship" being planned in India's largest minority institution "has potential for serious trouble". The V-C did not name the RSS or BJP, which have backed the event, or the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, which has said it will oppose it.

"In view of the threat of disturbance from these people, claiming to be affiliated to various political parties/outfits, another political outfit opposing them joined the fray and announced that they would not allow the rally to be held. This political gamesmanship, if allowed to proceed, has potential for serious trouble," the letter says.

AMU has decided not to hold the event now. Varsity spokesperson Rahat Abrar said: "Now, AMU will not organise the programme on the campus at all." The spokesman added that the AMU was established with the help of a large number of public donations and the authorities never hesitated to acknowledge these contributions.

The AMU Students' Union, which had earlier supported the decision to organise the programme at Tikonia Ground, has also said that it will not allow "the BJP or the RSS" to hold any programme inside the campus on December 1.

Raja Mahendra Pratap is a freedom fighter and an alumnus of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, founded in 1875 and later turned into a university in 1920. He was said to be closely associated with the Silk Handkerchief Movement (Reshmi Roomal Tehreek) with leading Muslim clerics of that era, including Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan, Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi and Maulana Barkatullah.

Reacting to V-C's letter to Irani, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "There should not be politicisation of event to honour the Jat leader who gave land for the AMU."

The BJP, however, seems determined to go ahead with the event. Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai said the party will celebrate the anniversary of 'Jat King' - as Mahendra Pratap is known in the area - on AMU campus itself. "The University leadership agrees with Raja Mahendra Pratap's contribution, then why do they have to worry about communal flare up?" party spokesperson G V L Narasimha said.

Slamming the Akhilesh Yadav government on the issue, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said, "BJP wants to spread communalism in Uttar Pradesh through this. The SP government should take this issue seriously." "It is the BJP's policy to do polarization in order to create tension," NCP leader Tariq Anwar said.

Meanwhile, a row has erupted on the Aligarh Muslim University campus over Shah holding a late-night meeting with BJP and ABVP leaders at his residence on Tuesday. The talks reportedly centred around the alleged inadequate acknowledgement by the varsity authorities to the contributions made by Raja Mahendra Pratap's family to AMU.

In a statement, the Aligarh Muslim University Teachers' Association said its members were hurt by the V-C's decision to give his consent to the Sangh Parivar to celebrate the 126th birth anniversary of Raja Mahendra Pratap on the campus. "The varsity community cannot forgive conspirators of the demolition of Babri Masjid and perpetrators of crimes against Muslims in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar," said Aftab Alam of the AMUTA.

Alam said though the AMU teachers were of the firm view that the Jat King was secular, they still didn't want any such celebrations on the campus. "He was a social reformist. Jan Sangh had opposed him when he had contested the 1952 Lok Sabha polls as an independent candidate. The BJP, the new avatar of Jan Sangh, is falsely claiming legacy of the freedom fighter, who always opposed communalism."


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