Published: 07th May 2018
Dear statue removers at AMU, Jinnah is alive and kicking!
Jinnah’s reincarnated spirit is exposing the divisiveness of radicals, creating a new wave of unrest in university and college campuses, ready to carve polarised experiments in young minds
Mohammad Ali Jinnah has been reincarnated. Going by the literal meaning of reincarnation —‘entering the flesh again’ or ‘rebirth', let’s accept that he is very much among us.
When did it happen? It was the day when the activists of Hindu Jagran Manch and Hindu Yuva Vahini (right-wing outfits) clashed with students of Aligarh Muslim University while attempting to force their way into the campus to remove the portrait of Jinnah, Pakistan’s creator.
We have been witnessing arguments ranging from ‘just a historical preservation of the university’s legacy, Jinnah being compared to Nehru and Gandhi by the Samajwadi party’s Gorakhpur MP to Jinnah being called ‘Jallad’ for letting the blood-soaked partition of India happen. Jinnah was also called a terrorist, an enemy of the nation and a deserving candidate for disrespect.
Here, one needs to look at the context in which the AMU administration refused to hold the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s daily shakha at the campus.
Obvious are the outcomes such as boycotting of classes by students, violent clashes between students and armed personnel, suspension of internet services, magisterial inquiry, vote bank-oriented political interventions, ultimately leading to the central government seeking a report from the concerned authorities.
Time has proved yet again, how damaging such a conflict can be. This is a moment to reflect on the ‘disha' and ‘dasha’ of our country, of life on campus, student’s orientations, policy focus, caste and religious narratives coloured by the nationalism debate which is impacting the mass culture in Indian society.
The removal of Jinnah’s portrait has been politically transformed into a litmus test for the minority community and its commitment to the widely-embraced popular form of aggressive Hindu nationalism and patriotism.
Just as historian Ayesha Jalal deems Jinnah ‘the most maligned person in recent Indian history’, with the multiple interpretations about the people responsible for the partition of India, Jinnah’s role has been highlighted, leaving the personal ambitions and political designs of his contemporary leaders largely at bay and left to the mercy of individual perceptions and ideological subjectivity.
Now, Jinnah has visible prominently through right-wing activism, hell-bent to execute the second partition of India, riding on high voltage supremacy of the Hindu identity as compared to the permanent others-the Muslims.
Scrubbing Jinnah off the wall will not rewrite history or its multiple narratives, but what it reflects is a political party so intolerant to the views and relationships of their best serving leaders with Jinnah. This justifies the rebirth of Jinnah in the form of a divisive stroke and aptly reflects the ideological frame of conflict and dominance, falsely resting on the shoulders of politics of nationalism, politics of culture with a continued target of electoral gains aimed at replacing the so-called appeased mindsets starting from the educational institutions itself.
Jinnah’s reincarnated spirit is exposing the divisiveness of radicals, creating a new wave of unrest in university and college campuses, ready to carve polarised experiments in young minds as have been witnessed at Ramjas college, JNU campus, BHU campus and now the Aligarh Muslim University campus.
For all obvious reasons, this reincarnated spirit has been successful in deflecting majority of minds from more important issues of national urgency like agricultural distress, wavering record of unemployment, systemic flaws, misogynistic perspectives poisoning civic life and others.
Until the time of conscious awakening and the proper death of reincarnated Jinnah, let us be a party to our university campus aerobics in line with our chosen political positions.
(Dr Shagufta Sufee is B A Programme coordinator and Assistant Professor at Department of Political Science, Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi)