Jinnah portrait- Row at Aligarh Muslim University, Old Story, New Shades

The Narratives of the ‘Modern India’ are dangerous, developed to please the conscience of a few in a nation of multiplicity. One is burnt alive and few lynched simply for choosing the food they want to eat. Welcome to India of the 21st Century, where aggression and hatred is explicitly sermonized in news rooms (Pop Up battle fields).

This is India of 21st Century where pursuing education after certain age is aberrant and a citizen with criminal backgrounds going to election is, Democracy. The unified effort by an increasingly Hindu nationalist state to normalize and mute potential alternative voices from educational institutes is a clear obstacle to the appearance of new generations of nation upholding a pluralistic understanding of Indian society.

The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), in the recent few years, has been in and out of media coverage for some good, bad and worst news as well, for now, the ideology that takes pride in lynching and burning is angry with a Jinnah Portrait hanging in the university Jinnah since 1938. Scores of students at Aligarh Muslim University were injured Wednesday afternoon when armed activists from the right wing descended on the campus with police backing to violently demand that a portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah to be taken down.

Who was Jinnah

Apart from being the ideological pillar behind the creation of Pakistan, Jinnah was active in the Indian freedom struggle. In 1916, Jinnah who was 40 then was recognized as one of India’s top political leaders. Gandhi, who had only just returned from South Africa, was a novice in Indian politics. Jawaharlal Nehru was not even there yet. Jinnah negotiated the Lucknow Pact, which saw Congress concede separate electorates and agree to minorities’ representation in legislatures.

Jinnah in one of his famous lectures while appealing the Muslims of India to fight for the Indian Nationalist Movement had said, “The Muslims of India would be false to themselves if they did not share fully, the new hope that is moving India’s patriotic sons today, or fail to respond to the call of the country.”

Even as late as 1939, Jinnah had said at the Osmania University, “I have always believed in a Hindu-Muslim pact, but not a pact that will mean a destruction of the one and a survival of the other.”

Why is AMU Protesting

On 30th April (Monday), A parliament member from Bharatiya Janata Party, Satish Gautam wrote to university Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor seeking an explanation over the portrait of Jinnah inside the Aligarh Muslim University Student Union Office.

The Right Wing Activists post that entered the university campus around 3 pm on Wednesday shouting the slogans “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jinnah Murdabad” thrashed the students in the name of ‘national integrity’ and patriotism.

Instantly, heavy contingents of police reached the campus to restore ‘peace’. There are video evidences against police excesses and usage of teargas shelling and lathicharge to disperse the students, who were demanding that members of the Hindutva groups be arrested.

The University has been on a stand still since then, the fuming students of AMU have been sitting at the Bab e Syed, the university’s main gate but on Thursday the protest took a violent turn when Police allegedly cane charged the peacefully protesting students, 28 students and 13 cops got injured in the clashes.

Denial of Space to Dissent

The Right Wing’s Parivar’s denial of India’s rich cultural political history is the project of Hindu Rashtra’s “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.” But the very idea of Hindutva fascism is threatened by the country’s plural history and syncretism.

No matter if Aligarh is called Harigarh and Aurangzeb Road changed to APJs,Taj Mahals being Tejo Mahal or Jamia Masjid being called Jamuna Maindir, there simply is no escaping from the miscellany of the India’s long walk to a Republic, in fact that is the only glitch to the Hindutva, the country’s plural history and confederation in a nation that is spoon fed with the swindled developmental agenda.

It is said that dissent has always acted as the feedback in the democratic system as it fosters an evolving society, but in a country that takes pride in lynching and hoisting National flags in a pro Rapist rally; this idea is an idealistic state. The institutional murder of Rohit Vemula, the arrest of JNU Students, the trouncing of Students at Hyderabad Central University, the tear gas shelling in Kashmir University and Islamic University of Science and Technology has really altered the face of Students Politics in India and the response from the state is-The anti-national game which firmly conflicts with a liberal and secular India which should revel in the diverse voices on university campuses.

The attempt is clearly to undermine AMU like JNU, Jadavpur, Hyderabad Central University which has been declared as Anti national by the popular narrative. The idea behind lynching, attacks on campuses, Babri Row, beef murders is to declare Muslims as troublesome ‘Pakistanis to merely satisfy the politics of Majoritarianism ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. Saying that, the patriotism will not end here, the portrait of Jinnah will be no issue in some time. New issues will come up, repainted with a fresh coat of stereotypes, but Muslims and minorities will be targeted and Fascism glorified.

The same, old story of fascist Majoritarian’ politics will be repeated over and again but in new shades.

Author: Qazi Shibli

Qazi Shibli is a News Editor with ‘The Kashmiriyat.’ A Documentary maker and writer, Qazi Shibli is a Journalism graduate from Bangalore University.