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AMU students protest against BJP, Irani denies receiving VC's letter
Friday November 28, 2014 8:36 PM, IANS

A letter by AMU vice chancellor to Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani warning of "massive unrest" and probability of "communal conflagration" if the birth anniversary of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh is celebrated on the varsity's campus Dec 1, has snowballed into a major political controversy.

AMU VC Irani

While Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Vice Chancellor Lt. Gen.(retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah said he has written to Irani warning of "communal trouble in Aligarh" and asking her "to exercise control over people raking up tensions", Irani denied she received any letter from him.

In his letter to the minister, Shah said: "In view of the threat of disturbance from these people, claiming to be affiliated to various political parties/outfits, another political outfit opposing them joined the fray and announced that they would not allow the rally to be held. This political gamesmanship, if allowed to proceed, has potential for serious trouble."

He, however, refused to name those who will create tensions.

In New Delhi, the minister said: "I have not received the letter. As of last night 9 p.m. when I left the office, I did not receive any such letter."

On being asked about the tensions the VC has alluded to, she said: "I can only react to contents once I read them and I receive a letter."

Shah's letter warned the minister about a massive unrest over the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) state unit's plan to mark the birth anniversary of Raja Mahendra Pratap, who, according to them, had donated the land within the campus for the university.

However, Shah said Pratap had leased the land to the varsity.

Speaking to CNN-IBN news channel, the VC said: "I have not (received a response from the HRD minister).. I have written a detailed letter saying that we expect a lot of trouble in case the situation is not controlled and have requested her to please exercise control over the people who are raking up tensions."

"Raja Mahendra Pratap was a benefactor of the university and I also made it clear that he did not gift any land...The land was on a lease deed for which the university has paid," he said.

"There are a lot of political parties on the fringe. My request is please put an end to this because we do not want communal trouble in Aligarh. My primary aim is to prevent law and order problem in the university," he said.

On being asked why they were not celebrating Pratap's 128th birth anniversary, Shah said: "There is no problem in celebrating.. We wanted to celebrate it ourselves but we will not be bulldozed or bullied by anybody. We will celebrate it, but we will celebrate it in our own way."

Meanwhile, hundreds of students holding placards and shouting slogans staged an anti-BJP protest outside the university.

In New Delhi, BJP's Aligarh leader Satish Goutam said they wanted to celebrate Pratap's birth anniversary as he was the one who gave the land, a claim denied by the varsity.

Slamming the BJP, Congress leader Manish Tewari said the VC's view should be taken "very seriously".

"The AMU is a central university. If the VC, who is charged with the responsibility of the administration, has a particular view, that view must be taken very seriously and nothing should be done, which in any manner vitiates the atmosphere of the university," Tewari said.

Agreed Asaduddin Owaisi, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) president and Lok Sabha member from Hyderabad.

He said the "real face of the BJP was coming out" and termed the whole controversy as "nonsensical".

"It is absolutely rubbish, it has no truth whatsoever in this claim. If such a claim they are making, then they should show the proof. The land of Aligarh was purchased by the contribution of people of that time and Sir Syed (Ahmed Khan) played a very important role, he is the founder of the university. So this is nothing but to vitiate the atmosphere so that they can get some political mileage out of it," Owaisi told reporters outside Parliament House.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati said the Uttar Pradesh government should take the matter seriously and should not allow any such programme to be held.

The ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh has also said that they would not allow the event to be conducted and also not let any protest to be held there.

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