New Delhi: The Jamia Millia Islamiah (JMI) alumni association in a strongly worded letter addressed to the Vice Chancellor has urged him to withdraw the invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the annual convocation or ask him to at least apologise for his statement made in 2008 about one of India's premium institution.
“We, the ex-students of Jamia, are writing to you to express our deep anguish and grief on your invitation to Narendra Modi to be the chief guest at annual convocation. We are anguished and shocked because, he along with his party members, have been constantly involved in spreading rumours and hatred about the university,” the letter by the alumni said.
The letter jointly written by Asad Ashraf (2007-2010) and Mahtab Alam (2001-2003) batch has been signed by over 50 registered members of the alumni association of JMI.
“We have a very simple request to you, withdraw the invitation or at least ask him to tender a public apology about his own malicious and incorrect statement before he attends the convocation,” the letter added.
The Jamia had earlier this month sent an invite to Modi to be the chief guest at its annual convocation this year. However, the varsity has not received any acceptance or acknowledgment from the PMO so far in this regard.
Modi had attacked Jamia in 2008 after the Batla House encounter in September that year.
Addressing a gathering in Gujarat, he had said, “There is a university in Delhi called Jamia Millia Islamia. It has publicly announced that it will foot the legal fee of terrorists involved in act. Go drown yourself. This Jamia Millia is being run on government money and it is daring to spend money on lawyers to get terrorists out of jail. When will this vote bank politics end?”
Modi’s comments had come following a statement by then Jamia VC Mushirul Hasan that the university would offer legal aid to two of its students arrested for their suspected involvement in terror activities.
The letter by the alumni also quotes senior BJP senior leader V K Malhotra’s comments made ahead of Lok Sabha polls last year that “Jamia and Batla are safe houses for terrorists”.
The letter further states that, “Modi’s comments had led to an environment, where every student of Jamia or its ex- student was seen with suspicion of being potential terrorists”.
However, asserting that it will not withdraw its invite, Jamia Millia Islamiah Spokesperson Mukesh Ranjan said, “Jamia has been inviting constitutional authorities for its convocation since its inception. Similarly, an invite has been extended to the Prime Minister because of him being a constitutional authority who has also been elected by the people of India.”
“The students or the alumni are free to have their opinion in the democratic country but we are looking forward to host Modi at the university and will announce the convocation date as soon as we get a suitable time from him,” Mukesh is quoted by news agency PTI.
President Pranab Mukherjee was the chief guest for the 2014 convocation. Earlier, Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi too had graced the Jamia Milli Islamiah functions as chief guest.
Besides other dignitaries, Saudi King Salman who visited India few years back too had made a visit to the university.
Jamia Millia Islamia was established at Aligarh in United Provinces, India during British rule in 1920. It became a Central University by an act of the Indian Parliament in 1988.