The recent controversy between JNUSU and AMUSU has become one of the burning topic in the academic circles. The whole controversy started cooking up around “ALL INDIA STUDENTS LEADERS MEET” which was scheduled to be held on 18th Feb 2017 at Kennedy Auditorium, AMU. AMUSU has a precedence of hosting Students’ leaders meet periodically, wherein student leaders from campuses across the country are invited to deliberate and discuss issues concerning the student community. The bone of contention which sparked the controversy around the meet this time was that instead of keeping in with inclusive and representative standards of AMU, student representatives appreciating a particular ideology lineage were alone invited to speak, to which AMU student community took a strong exception. Aligarh fraternity opposed this program and demanded that ‘Students Leaders Meet’ must be inclusive and not exclusive, wherein student representatives from all major universities should be invited. Use of derogatory and abusive language in the guise of explaining hate and hateful speech against major religious personalities by Ex JNUSU Vice president in one of her facebook posts added fuel to the fire.
Students here in AMU keeping in with democratic norms, had every right to put forth their opinion and register their protest. General Student’s community at AMU had reservation with the invited speakers for the meet and were not opposed to the meet itself .We firmly believe that academic institutions are major breeding spaces for discussion, debate, and deliberation, Aligarh Muslim University being a premier educational institution in the country, is no exception to that.
As soon as AMUSU President Faizul Hassan declared that students meet had been postponed all self styled liberals and upholders of freedom of speech started a hateful and defamatory campaign against AMU by labelling Alig community as Musanghis, religious fanatics, regressive, mulla, kattarpanthi and misogynists. The irony is that those who claim to advocate democracy and free speech were the first to tag whole issue with religious fanaticism to make it inconsonance with the already stereotyping of the Muslims in the world.
If principle is that banning of people is never justified at all and if anyone has disagreements he should initiate for a debate one needs to wonder where the solidarity of flagbearers of free speech and civil liberties was when JNUSU campaigned to ban the entry of Baba Ramdev, Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri and Arvind Gupta into JNU campus. As reported in an online portal First post JNUSU Ex VP Shehla Rashid is on record to have said, that “It is very unfortunate to know that, a co-organizer of the ’22nd International Congress of Vedanta’ has allowed Baba Ramdev to be invited as a keynote speaker in the valedictory ceremony. It does not befit the stature of an academic institution like JNU to have persons with such a questionable and shameful background to address an academic gathering”. Poster boys of tolerance should question Shehla Rashid why didn’t she initiated for a debate with these people instead of getting them banned. It is sheer hypocrisy to applaud politics of banning in JNU and demonizing the same for AMU.
Those who tag AMU of being intolerant and regressive must open their eyes to the series of events organized at AMU campus. Firstly on 15th Feb communist cum feminist stalwart Kavita Krishnan delivered a lecture organized by Cultural Education centre, AMU. It has been reported that in her talk she stressed that one should dress at his/her personal whims and it’s not justified to have a sense of dressing based on ones religious beliefs including Islam. Secondly on 14th Feb on eve of valentine’s day a march was organised in the name of women’s empowerment wherein one of the placards displayed a quote that “Was it really my Fault? Asked the short skirt. No it happened to me too, replied the Burkha”.
It has also been observed that many people tried to misappropriate the whole issue as that of patriarchy and gender violence wherein they knowingly or unknowingly pulled out the fact that both accuser and accused are women.
It needs to be underlined that at a time when fascist forces in the country are crushing the space for voices of dissent unity of student’s community across the country is the need of the hour. But it’s pertinent to mention here that if JNU can’t compromise with its idea of university AMU should in no way be bullied into compromise with its just ideals of inclusiveness and respect for secular and religious figures alike as cherished by Aligarh Movement and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Student unity must be forged on principles of equality and mutual respect.
Shafat Maqbool is a doctoral fellow at department of commerce, AMU. He has keen interest in student activism, International politics and Revivalist movements. And can be reached at email@example.com