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Students, Teachers Boycott Prime Minister Modi's Historic Address at Aligarh Muslim University

CC BY-SA 3.0 / Hhkhan / Bab-e-syed, the gateway to AMU Bab-e-Syed, the gateway to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
 Bab-e-Syed, the gateway to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). - Sputnik International
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a virtual address on Tuesday to congratulate Aligarh Muslim University - a minority university in the state of Uttar Pradesh - for celebrating its centenary. This is the first time in 56 years an Indian Prime Minister has addressed the students of the university.

Students and teachers of Aligarh Muslim University have condemned the virtual address given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday morning. 

Ghazala Ahmed, a member of the AMU student union, said: “We do not welcome Narendra Modi. For the past six years, time and again, the Modi government has made Muslims of the country feel like second-class citizens, whether by introducing the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) or implementing the National Register of Citizens (NRC).”

Ahmed claimed Modi's government tried to take away the university's minority status: "The BJP-led government in the state (Yogi Adityanath) has questioned the minority status of the university. How can we welcome such a person who’s trying to take away the right of our university?”

In 2016, the Modi government in the country’s top court expressed its interest in removing the minority status of AMU. However, the proposal was met with mass resistance and the government withdrew its suggestion. 

“Last year, the same government used brute force against us at the CAA protest. How can we welcome him?” Ahmed added, referring to 11 December last year when the Indian parliament passed the controversial act giving migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan the right to apply for Indian citizenship so long as they are not Muslim. 

The university student union has issued a statement objecting to the virtual visit of India’s Prime Minister Modi for the centenary celebration. 

“At this moment, minorities of the country are in crisis — be it farmers, students or Muslims. The ruling government is responsible for this. When [Modi] can't address the issue related to the minorities, what is the need to speak at the minority institute?” another student, Talha Mannan of the Education department, said.

Not only students but media reports also suggest that more than 70 per cent of the teaching staff boycotted the Modi speech. 

On Monday, renowned historian Irfan Habib, AMU professor emeritus said that the PM's address to the university is “not a matter of pride".

“There is no reason for AMU to boast about the PM’s participation. He represents Indian culture in the wrong way. AMU is for scholars and not for those who believe in their own divisive culture,” the 89-year-old AMU professor announced in a press release. 

After the students' declaration of protest, the city's senior police officer said the administration is keeping a watch on social media and security forces have been stationed around the AMU campus.

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