President Ram Nath Kovind was at the Aligarh Muslim University to attend the annual convocation on Wednesday. The university’s students’ union had warned the ‘Sanghi’ elements to stay away from the event failing which the President would have had to face the students’ boycott.
Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter last month the AMU Students’ Union president Mashkoor Ahmed Usmani had said that the students ‘will do everything in our capacity to welcome him with full honour. We will follow the protocol in accordance with the constitution.’
He had said, “However, no members of BJP or the RSS or, for that matter, any political outfit, will be allowed to enter the campus on that day. This is our warning to anyone with communal background that they must stay away from the campus on the day President Kovind arrives here as our guest. As Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had said, ‘When the AMU speaks, Muslims of India listen.’ We have to preserve the non-communal identity of our campus. If anyone thinks they can enter on the pretext of being a part of the President’s convoy, this is our warning to them.”
On Wednesday, President Kovind arrived at the university and, much to the relief of the organisers, there were no ‘communal’ elements with him. Even the focus of President Kovind’s speech was on promoting tolerance and the need for mutual respect.
He said that the acceptance of alternative ways of thinking and mutual respect were not just slogans but ‘India’s natural way of life’ adding that diversity and an open-minded approach were great sources of strength for the country. The president said the pursuit of knowledge and the quest for human dignity were inter-connected.
“These twin goals have been at the centre of the Indian ethos and of our composite civilisation. They have contributed to our diversity, which is our great strength, as well as our open-minded approach as people,” PTI quoted him as saying.
Also joining President Kovind was the Uttar Pradesh governor, Ram Naik, who said that ‘if they (AMU students) were ready to smile at the world and serve society, then no one can stop them from reaching the pinnacle of human achievement.’ Naik is also the rector of the AMU.
Usmani too thanked the President in his welcome address and presented a list of demands including the need to open an AMU centre in Jammu and Kashmir, on the missing students of JNU and AMU (Najeeb Ahmed and Mannan Wani), and non-interference by political and communal elements in the daily affairs of the university.
Usmani later told Janta Ka Reporter, “It was our honour to welcome both President Kovind and Governor Ram Naik as out guests. Their speeches at the event will, no doubt, inspire 32,000 plus students of the campus. I am particularly hopeful that the AMU will greatly benefit from the President’s intervention on several of our pending demands.
“We were also relieved that the communal elements stayed away from accompanying both the dignitaries. Our aim has always been to strengthen this great educational institution as one of the most sought-after hubs of learning in the world. Keeping the environment of campus free from poisonous elements is absolutely necessary for us to be able to achieve that objective.”
Both current and former students of the university had launched an intense campaign asking for explanation from the new Vice Chancellor, Tariq Mansoor last year after the university administration invited Sandeep Singh, the grandson of former UP chief minister, Karyan Singh, for the Sir Syed Day event. Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya by BJP workers during Kalyan Singh’s term as the state’s chief minister.