“Somebody needs to teach AMU a lesson. Who will do it?” A BJP MP, known for his anti-Muslim views, had tweeted this headline and url link of an article in the early morning of the university’s fateful day.
ALIGARH — Full four days have passed but none of the members of Hindu Yuva Vahini who barged into the campus of Aligarh Muslim University on Wednesday, raised provocative slogans and allegedly scuffled with the security guards have been arrested. It is unlikely, therefore, that those who actually instigated the mob will ever be known. However, there was a chain of events hours and days before the violence on the 2nd May afternoon.
On 27th April, an RSS affiliate had reportedly written to AMU Vice Chancellor seeking permission to hold Shakha or camp of the Hindu-right group inside the campus in order to remove “misconceptions” about it. The demand was strongly condemned by the AMU Students’ Union.
“RSS is deliberately trying to create a controversy. AMU is an educational institution and RSS wants to use it for a wrong purpose. Students of AMU will not allow RSS to enter the campus because its ideology is to ruin and break the unity of the country,” AMUSU president Mashkoor Ahmad Usmani had told Caravan Daily.
On 1st May, BJP Lok Sabha MP from Aligarh, Satish Gautam wrote to AMU VC objecting to Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait at the office of AMUSU.
The university defended the portrait saying it is there since 1938 when life membership of AMUSU was given to Jinnah.
“Jinnah was also accorded life membership of the AMUSU in 1938. He was the founder member of the University Court in 1920 and also a donor. He was granted membership before the demand of Pakistan had been raised by the Muslim League,” AMU spokesman Shafey Kidwai.
On the same 1st May, an article with a provocative headline was published on a news portal known for its pro-Sangh views. “Somebody needs to teach AMU a lesson. Who will do it?” This was the title of the article published on pgurus.com. the article strongly condemned the university and AMUSU for the portrait of Jinnah.
The article ended on this paragraph: “The AMU student’s body had objected to the visit of the country’s President Ram Nath Kovind to the university on the ground that it opposed his ‘soch’ (ideology). It has also objected to the opening of an RSS unit in the campus on a similar pretext. Should we then assume now that, by having no qualms about retaining Jinnah’s portrait in the campus, the students have endorsed Jinnah’s two-nation ideology based on religion?”
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) May 2, 2018
On 2nd May (around 6 AM), BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy tweeted the article of pgurus.com. He also put the instigating headline of the article as his comment above the tweet.
The afternoon of the day witnessed about two-dozen people proceeding fast towards the main gate of AMU. They were carrying sticks and allegedly also firearms. They forcibly tried to barge into the campus, allegedly scuffled with the varsity’s security guards and also some students. They were demanding removal of the controversial portrait. They were raising communal and provocative slogans. In the guesthouse just meters from there, former Vice President of India Hamid Ansari was staying. He was there to attend a program of AMUSU. His program was later cancelled.
Soon hundreds of students gathered on the spot and forced the members of Vahini to retreat. Police escorted them to the local police station. The AMU students marched towards the station demanding their arrest. Police were trying to persuade them not to march towards the station, but the students were so agitated at the act of saffron activists that they continued marching. Minutes later, the police resorted to lathi-charge and mercilessly assaulted some of the students. At least two dozen students including AMUSU president were wounded. The students have since suspended the classes and are demanding arrest of saffron activists and action against police officials for the assault.