A photo of Pandit Malaviya was missing from a poster designed to announce a webinar on Urdy Day, and that has lead to the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) issuing a “warning letter” to the Head of Urdu department (HoD) Prof Aftab Ahmad. According to news reports, the University has also formed a committee to ‘probe the matter’. Meanwhile Prof Ahmed has publicly apologised on Monday saying, he did not intend to hurt anyone’s sentiments.
The Indian Express reported that the department has also withdrawn the poster “after a group of students belonging to ABVP, the RSS’s students’ wing, took objection to the fact that the poster had the photograph of Urdu poet Allama Iqbal but not that of BHU founder Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya.” The university issued a “warning letter” to Prof Ahmad, though he said his intention was not to hurt anyone’s sentiments. On Monday, the official handle of BHU Dean of Arts Faculty tweeted, “Urdu Department, Faculty of Arts, BHU, is organizing 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.” The revised poster tweeted by the Dean replaced Iqbal’s photograph with that of Malaviya.
Urdu Department, Faculty of Arts, #BHU, is organizing a webinar as per the details given in the poster. Sincerest apologies for the inadvertent mistake in the earlier poster that went viral on social media.@bhupro @VCofficeBHU pic.twitter.com/loGvXe99IU
— Dean_Arts_BHU (@ArtsBhu) November 8, 2021
The BHU’s public relations officer Rajesh Singh told the media, “On the occasion of Urdu Day, a webinar was scheduled to be held by the Urdu Department. Department head Aftab Ahmad shared an e-poster on Facebook from the department’s official handle on Sunday. (It) had poet Allama Iqbal’s photo.” It added that the opposition to the poster started after people began commenting on social media that the poster did not have Malaviya’s photograph. On Monday, Singh added that the ABVP students held a protest and submitted a memorandum to BHU officials after which the university “formed a committee to probe the matter. We also issued a warning letter seeking a clarification from Ahmad about how he shared a poster without consulting the Arts Faculty dean and other senior officials.”
According to IE, the man at the centre of the controversy, Prof Ahmad said, “The moment I was informed about objections by some people, I apologised and said Iqbal’s photograph should be removed and replaced with Malviya-ji’s photo… The poster was shared on Facebook by some students. I had not seen it before…(but) it is my responsibility even if it was shared by students.”
November 9, the poet’s birth anniversary is celebrated as International Urdu Day and Iqbal Day. Ahmed added that, “Many say Iqbal had migrated to Pakistan after Partition. I would like to say Iqbal died in 1938, seven years before the Partition. We teach Iqbal as a poet and writer, who wrote ‘Saare Jahaan se achha Hindustan hamara’. His writing is taught in Hindi in universities…. One does not become British if one reads William Shakespeare… Iqbal had called Lord Ram ‘Imam-e-Hind’” quoted the IE. He said the webinar held on Tuesday was intended “to spread awareness about opportunities in Urdu learning and education. In the Urdu department, every event is started after paying tribute to Malaviya-ji. We have always paid respect to him.”
उर्दू विभाग द्वारा विश्व उर्दू दिवस (9 नवम्बर) के उपलक्ष्य में “Urdu as Mother Tongue:Issues and Possibilities” विषयक वेबिनार का उदघाटन हुआ @bhupro @VCofficeBHU @registrarbhu pic.twitter.com/LPXVj6jlu6
— Dean_Arts_BHU (@ArtsBhu) November 9, 2021
According to news reports, English department head, M K Pandey will head the probe committee, which will have Bimlendra Kumar, HoD, Pali and Buddhist Studies, on the panel. The committee has been told to submit its report in three working days.
इस बारे में तथ्यों की जांच के लिए प्रो.के.एम.पांडे,विभागाध्यक्ष, अंग्रेज़ी विभाग,की अध्यक्षता में जांच समिति गठित की गई है। प्रो. बिमलेन्द्र कुमार,विभागाध्यक्ष,पाली एवं बौद्ध अध्ययन विभाग,समिति के सदस्य एवं सहायक कुलसचिव,कला संकाय,सदस्य सचिव होंगे। समिति 3दिन में रिपोर्ट सौंपेगी।
— BHU Official (@bhupro) November 9, 2021