Lucknow: At least 28 students were injured in police lathicharge on Wednesday at the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University, which has been witnessing a row over a decades-old photograph of Pakistan founder and freedom fighter Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
- RAF deployed after students come to blows with right-wing activists
- Activists sought removal of Muhammad Ali Jinnah's photo from a hall
- Hundreds of students take out march to police station; RAF uses force
Earlier on Wednesday, Rapid Action Force of the Uttar Pradesh police was deployed after students and some right-wing activists almost came to blows. The right-wing activists were demanding the removal of Jinnah's photo, to which the students objected.
Later in the evening, hundreds of students tried to march to the local police station, where the activists had been confined. Unable to control them, the RAF men used force, sources said. The clash took place at the university's main gate.
"Most injuries are caused by blunt objects like cane. Some students have sustained head injuries, some just bruises. Scans and X-rays have been conducted in most cases, reports are awaited," a doctor told NDTV.
At the heart of the clash is a photo of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which has been hanging at the University's student union hall for years.
On Monday, Satish Gautam, the BJP lawmaker from Aligarh, wrote to university vice-chancellor Tariq Mansoor, asking why the portrait was allowed. AMU spokesman Shafey Kidwai responded that Jinnah was a founder of the university and was granted life membership of the student union.
"Traditionally, photographs of all life members are placed on the walls of the student union," he told news agency Press Trust of India. "Jinnah was accorded life membership of the AMU students' union in 1938. He was the founder member of the University Court in 1920 and also a donor," he added.
The controversy coincided with a visit by former Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who was a professor as well as a vice chancellor of the university.
Hundreds of students of the university are currently sitting at the main gate of the university, demanding action against members of right-wing organisations.
University officials are believed to have taken down Mr Jinnah's portrait for now. There is no official word on it, but sources say many other portraits have been taken down as well for cleaning.
UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya, formerly with the BSP, questioned the controversy over Mr Jinnah. "It is shameful for anyone to point a finger at great leaders who contributed towards nation-building," he said in a statement.
(With inputs from PTI)