BJP’s Bijnor MP Kunwar Bhartendra Singh, after facing protest by AMU students following his appointment as a member of the AMU Court, was recently approached by a section of students for the construction of a hostel on the campus. The MP, an accused in cases related to Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013, facilitated the meeting of the students with Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani in Delhi on Tuesday.
Singh accompanied several AMU students to the meeting where they submitted a request in writing for the construction of a hostel in the memory of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, a freedom fighter who also came to be known as ‘Jat King’.
Significantly, around the same time last year, both the BJP and AMU had entered into a battle of sorts over celebrating Mahendra Pratap’s birth anniversary (December 1), with the university refusing to hold any celebrations and even shooting off a letter to Irani warning of “massive student unrest” and the “possibility of communal conflagration if political machinations are not controlled”.
The BJP’s stand then was riding on claims that Mahendra Pratap had donated land to the AMU and, therefore, the university should celebrate his birthday like it celebrates that of founder Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. The Bijnor MP’s interest in facilitating the students’ meet with irani, therefore, couldn’t be surprising.
“I have special attachment with AMU. My father Raja Devendra Singh was an MBA with the first batch in 1959. I still have preserved the University Colours which he received for his outstanding performance in horse riding, badminton and hockey,” the MP told The Indian Express.
He dismissed the protest in April preventing him from attending the meeting of the AMU Court, the supreme governing body of the varsity, as “a protest by children who were agitated”.
“It is our misfortune that we were four MLAs of BJP in western region and we were all named in the FIRs related to the Muzaffarnagar riots. Those who lodged fake case against me also stage-managed protest by the students’ wing. But this issue is in the past and I am always there for the betterment of AMU,” he said.
Along with Singh, three other BJP MPs — Bhola Singh, Rajveer Singh and Satish Gautam — were elected as members of AMU Court by the Centre. Bhartendra Singh was accused of violating prohibitory orders and provoking communal tension by making inflammatory speeches during a panchayat meet in Muzaffarnagar in 2013. He was arrested on October 17, 2013.
“For me, AMU remains our country’s one of the oldest institutions. Lots of people from my constituency study there. For just Rs 1000-1200 per month, one can study there with all facilities. Due to the large number of students, the university needs an extra hostel and I have requested the HRD minister to accept this request,” Singh said.
“It will also be an achievement if it (the hostel) is constructed in the name of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, an alumnus of the institution and a great nationalist. The students themselves requested for this,” he added.
On approaching the MP for help, Pervez Siddiqui, president of Sir Syed Minority Federation of India, said: “We had heard from our contacts that Bhartendra ji is always helpful. Since he has connection with the AMU, we met him and apprised him of the situation. He facilitated our meeting with the HRD minister and also assured us of all possible help in the future. We are not bothered if he is from the BJP — his father had studied in AMU and he himself is a member of the AMU Court, that is more important.”