The presence of Muhammad Ali Jinnah's portrait in Aligarh Muslim University has created quite a controversy. And the row is now snowballing with the national head of All-India Muslim Mahasangh announcing a Rs 1 lakh reward to anyone who tears down Jinnah's posters and photos across the country.
Farhat Ali Khan said that the AMU student's union office or any organization must not keep Jinnah's posters as Indian Muslims not only hate Jinnah but also detest Pakistan.
"The ongoing controversy over the poster of Mohammad Ali Jinnah is nonsense. The students of AMU have been provoked," he told ANI.
"I appeal everyone to tear and burn down posters of Jinnah and people like him. I announce a reward of Rs 1 lakh for the one who burns down the poster."
Not just that, he also questioned why Jinnah must be remembered in India when no organization in Pakistan remembers Indian leaders who played key roles in Independence. He also said that Indian leaders' posters will not be found anywhere in Pakistan, so why should India hang portraits of Pakistan' leaders.
The matter was first brought up by BJP MP Satish Gautam, who questioned the presence of Jinnah's portrait in AMU's student union office. Gautam then wrote to the varsity and demanded its removal. Soon after his request, members of the Hindu Jagran Manch arrived at the university campus demanding the removal of the portrait.
UP deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya also said that Jinnah's portrait must be removed from the AMU office as he was the "nation's enemy."
"No one has a place in their heart for nation's enemy, never had, and never will have," Maurya told ANI.
However, the move has now led to massive protests in AMU, with students asking why the portrait had become an eye-sore all of a sudden. The students explained that they do not mind the poster being removed, but have an issue with people gatecrashing the campus and disturbing the environment.
"Jinnah picture being removed is a non-issue. We have assembled here to expose this politics and how right-wing people entered the campus with an intention to disturb the peaceful environment. Police are also with them. They beat, detained us illegally but let them go free," The Indian Express quoted AMU Students' Union (AMUSU) secretary Mohammad Fahad as saying.
The AMU students also clashed with the police, resulting in 28 students and 13 policemen sustaining injuries. Due to these clashes, Section 144 has been imposed in Aligarh and internet services have also been suspended in the north Indian city.
The services will remain suspended until Saturday midnight so that communal messaging inciting communal clashes aren't circulated.
Meanwhile, the row seems to have spread to other places as well, with students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the Delhi University (DU) also gathering outside the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan in Delhi in protest.
The Delhi police then had to barricade the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan and asked the protestors to leave, reported India Today.