ALIGARH: In the wake of growing demands for removing the portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah from the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh, Pakistan has said that the controversy over its founder showed the "growing intolerance and prejudice" in India towards Muslims.
Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal said at a weekly briefing 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," Faisal said.
The reactions from Pakistan coincided with a demand from the AMU Students' Union for action against the right-wing members who had allegedly entered into the varsity's campus on May 2 and indulged in an "unprovoked attack" on students.
The students of the AMU have written a letter to the Centre and the state government demanding action against the right-wing members for damaging the reputation of the historic university.
According to reports, the members of the AMU Students' Union have written three separate letters addressing PM Narendra Modi, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the Union HRD Ministry to clear the air over the matter and take action against those who indulged in an "unprovoked attack" on the varsity students.
In a related development, the AMU Alumni Forum in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also submitted a memorandum to the Consulate General of India in the country demanding prompt action against right-wing activists for vitiating the atmosphere of the prestigious university in Uttar Pradesh's Aligarh district.
The memorandum, addressed to the President of India, claimed the "armed hooligans" were planning to attack former vice president Hamid Ansari, who was visiting the AMU campus.
President of the forum, Syed Qutubur Rahman, said similar memorandums were being sent to the President from different AMU alumni associations all over the Middle-East.
Similar memorandums condemning the police lathicharge have been sent from alumni associations in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia, USA, South Korea and New Zealand, he said.
The controversy erupted after BJP MP Satish Gautam had written a letter to AMU Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor objecting to the portrait, triggering a row that led to two youths being arrested in connection with incidents of violence and exams being postponed to May 12.
The Vice Chancellor has said that the portrait of the Pakistan founder had been hanging in the AMU students' union office since 1938 and it was a non-issue.
Adding to a new twist to the row over Jinnah, ruling BJP MP Savitri Bai Phule on Thursday said that Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a 'maha purush' who had contributed in country's independence.
"Jinnah was a 'maha purush' and will always remain so. He had contributed in country's independence," she said.
Noted yoga guru and Patanjali Ayurved founder Baba Ramdev too joined the ongoing debate over the removal of Muhammad Ali Jinnah's portrait from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking on the issue in Nalanda, Ramdev recently said, ''Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, cannot be an ideal for India's integrity and unity.''
A large number of AMU students have been agitating for the past few days, demanding action against the right-wing protesters, who entered the campus and demanded the removal of Jinnah's portrait from the student union's office.
Hitting out at those who opposed the call to remove Jinnah's portrait in AMU, the ruling BJP said that those standing with Jinnah also stood for terrorist Afzal Guru.
BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said that those who are standing for Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah also stood for terrorists like Afzal Guru.
(With Agency inputs)