In the current political atmosphere of communal frivolity, which sparks up controversy time and again, the chord has been struck again.

This time it is regarding the portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, hung on the walls of the Aligarh Muslim University’s students’ union hall.

Jinnah
Jinnah’s portrait at Aligarh Muslim University

THE CONTROVERSY

Sparks rose when Aligarh BJP MP, Satish Gautam, wrote a letter to the Vice-Chancellor of AMU, Tariq Mansoor, objecting to the portrait of Jinnah being placed at the university.

Gautam has questioned the university on grounds that, how is it that they can display a portrait of the man who was responsible for the partition of India and for creating Pakistan.

However, historically by that logic, Jinnah wasn’t the sole participant in deciding on India’s partition. Nehru, Patel and to an extent even Gandhi had a role to play in the partition of India.

HISTORICAL ANTECEDENT

According to historian Ayesha Jalal, the demand for Pakistan was essentially a bargaining chip which eventually went out of control and led to the partition of India and the atrocities that followed. Whatever may be the exact political reasons for the partition of India at the time, it happened with brutality nonetheless.

The BJP MP further claimed, according to sources, that Jinnah was responsible for the killings of 1947 and emphasised his stand for the removal of the portrait from the university.

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REACTIONS

As a response to Gautam’s question, the AMUSU president, Mashkoor Ahmad Usmani said that Jinnah was made a lifetime member of the AMUSU in 1938 and that’s the very year his portrait was installed at the university.

He added that the portrait was added before partition and hence its presence should not be questioned.

AMU spokesman Shafey Kidwai, defended the portrait by saying that other political stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Aazad, C Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad, Nehru and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan also received this lifetime membership of the AMUSU.

He even added that the AMUSU is an autonomous student body over which the administration cannot exercise untold control.

COUNTER REACTIONS

To counter the claims of Jinnah’s portrait being installed at AMU, many have asked, whether Gandhi or Nehru’s portrait would be installed at a university at Pakistan and further would it be defended.

This seems like a plausible counter-argument, given the fragility of the situation, but underlying layers of complexity remain.

These questions and observations seem very relevant today. These political personalities and their ideas have essentially led to the India that we live in today, still tormented by underlying communal frivolities that spark up from time to time.

This instance for one, is a highly complex one. Historically, it isn’t incorrect to say that Jinnah was the founder of Pakistan and that the Muslim League did demand separate rights and provisions, but all that does form a part of India’s brutal but rich modern past.

The issue is bridled with political effervescence and communal undertones, but remains torn in the shackles of the current political scenario.


Sources: The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Financial Express, Foreign Affairs

Image Source: Google Images


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