BHU Urdu Dept controversy: Committee formed to probe issue yet to release report, as students stoke storm

BHU spokesperson said that the department head has already apologised and won't be put on 'death row' even when the committee comes out with its report
Pic: Edex Live
Pic: Edex Live

After the controversy that erupted in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) over a poster of Urdu poet Allama Iqbal shared by their Urdu department on Facebook, a committee was set up to probe into the issue. The committee, which was set up on November 10, was supposed to come out with the report within three working days.

The Head of BHU's English Department KM Pandey will head the probe committee and Head of Pali and Buddhist Studies, Bimlendra Kumar will be part of the panel. Professor Pandey told Edexlive that the report was not out yet and that the media would be informed once the report has been submitted. He refused to comment on the nature of the controversy.

Where did the issue begin?
It all started after a group of students aligned with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP, took objection over the poster because it did not have the picture of Madan Mohan Malviya — one of the founding members of the varsity. Iqbal's birth anniversary on November 9 incidentally falls on the World Urdu Day, which is why the Urdu Department had organised a webinar with his picture on two corners of the poster. 

What was supposed to be a celebration of the language and the poet, who has penned Saare jahan se aacha Hindostan humara, sung as a patriotic song even today, was marred by the controversy to a point that the official handle of BHU Dean of Arts Faculty tweeted, “Urdu Department, Faculty of Arts, BHU, is organising a webinar as per details given in the poster. Sincerest apologies for the inadvertent mistake in the earlier poster that went viral on social media.” Even the Head of the Urdu Department, Prof Aftab Ahmad was given a warning letter by the varsity and he had to issue an apology.

While talking to Edexlive regarding the issue, Ahmad had said, "It does not matter if what we did was right or wrong but as there were sentiments hurt because of me, I had no problem in apologising." He was quick to add, "Now I will have to accept whatever decision the committee comes out with. This is the first time the department has fallen into a controversy."

Counter reactions and then some
On November 13, students of BHU who are members of Bhagat Singh Chattra Morcha, a left-leaning student outfit, submitted a memorandum to the Acting VC VK Shukla. They demanded that the committee be scrapped altogether as any further probe into the matter, which they said is based on "communal propaganda", is unwarranted.   

A BHU representative, who did not want to be named, said that the objection to the webinar was only for political gains. "Everybody knows that it is a political drama. If something is under such heavy controversy, a committee is warranted," he said. He added that the department head has already apologised "so even when the committee comes out with the report, it is not like he is going to be put on a death row."

The representative even said that to date there have been no instructions or rules issued that the founder's photo has to be used for any and every event the varsity departments organise.

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