The annual convocation ceremony of Jamia Millia Islamia university this year was definitely unlike the ones hosted in the past. With the shadow of the Jamia Nagar’s Batla House encounter still looming large at the varsity, the event was marked with an unprecedented mood.
The varsity conferred the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) on actors Shabana Azmi and Naseeruddin Shah, Muslim scholar Asghar Ali Engineer and leading scholar of Indian classical dance Kapila Vatsyayan during the convocation on Thursday. Kannada writer U.R. Ananthamurthy was the chief guest. That apart, a total of 3,213 degrees and diplomas and 105 PhDs were awarded to students for the academic year 2006-07.
But all of this failed to be the highlight of the event. The effect of the Jamia Nagar encounter on the university’s reputation, however, was a major topic of discussion.
Marked with undertones of indignation and fury, Vice-Chancellor Mushirul Hasan’s annual report was largely devoted to defending Jamia’s secular character and setting the record straight.
“Do not malign a university simply because three of its students are allegedly involved in terror activities. Instead, turn to its impeccable record as the beating heart of Indian nationalism,” Hasan said in his address.
“Does it behove the vice-chancellor of a university to lead peace marches? Or plaster walls of the city with posters to declaim our commitment to peace. Does one do this out of choice? No, But as some might say, dire situations call for drastic measures,” he said.
Hasan’s views were endorsed by eminent personalities present and felicitated at the event. “The hysterical attack on him (Mushirul Hasan) by his critics prompts me to say that he has defended the ideals that our constitution upholds and nothing more. Nobody who is same can defend terrorists,” said Ananthamurthy.