As the demand to remove the portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the Aligarh Muslim University grows stronger, Pakistan on Thursday said that the ongoing controversy is an indication of “growing intolerance and prejudice” in India towards Muslims and Pakistan.
At a weekly briefing, Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said that traditionally pictures of all life members (of the AMU students’ union) are displayed in the AMU and Jinnah’s picture has been on display since 1938.
“The row over the picture’s display on the demand of a member of the incumbent government indicates the growing intolerance, xenophobia and prejudice especially against Muslims and Pakistan in India and is very dangerous, most of all for India itself,” he said.
“It also reflects the fanaticism rampant in Indian society being fuelled by those in power. This is in sharp contrast with the tolerance in Pakistan where the pictures/statues of (Mahatma) Gandhi, continue to be displayed at the Islamabad Monument museum,” Faisal added.
BJP MP Satish Gautam had written a letter to AMU Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor objecting to a portrait of the founder of Pakistan on the walls of the AMU student union office, triggering a row that led to two youths being arrested in connection with incidents of violence and exams being postponed.
AMU has been tense ever since members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Hindu Yuva Vahini, while demanding removal of Jinnah’s portrait, entered the campus and assaulted students who were opposing them.
On Wednesday, Mansoor had met Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss issues concerning the institution engulfed in a controversy over the Jinnah portrait.
The vice-chancellor briefed the home minister about the situation on the campus.
On 3 May, clashes took place when the students were demanding action against right-wing protesters who had entered the AMU campus and assaulted the students. In the clash, 28 students and 13 police personnel were injured.
(With agency inputs)