A Fabricated Controversy

The real reason for attacking the Aligarh Muslim University was not Jinnah’s portrait.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has found another opportunity to encourage hooliganism by Hindutva goons in university campuses. This time, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is the target. The so-called controversy revolves around a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah that has been on display at the university since 1938. Sangh Parivar members affiliated to the Hindu Yuva Vahini and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad barged into the AMU campus on 2 May 2018 demanding the portrait’s removal. Instead of bringing the troublemakers to book, the police attacked AMU students on their way to register a complaint with canes and tear gas.

This fabricated controversy around Jinnah’s portrait has brought into public debate, once again, the old and sterile question of Jinnah’s culpability in British India’s partition. It is not a question that professional historians care very much about any more. It is understood that partition was a complex process for which no single individual can be held responsible. Yet, interest around “great men” dies hard; both Pakistan and India continue to use Jinnah for their national hagiographies and demonologies respectively.

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Updated On : 17th May, 2018

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