BBC documentary row: AMU students react to VC Tariq Mansoor's praise for PM Modi; Varsity defends stance

Mansoor, who assumed the role of AMU VC in May 2017, came under criticism for his opinion piece in the Indian Express wherein he stated that the documentary is biased reportage and heaped praise on Modi.

Abhishek NairUpdated: Monday, January 23, 2023, 10:41 AM IST
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PM Narendra Modi (L) and AMU VC Tariq Mansoor (R) |

Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor’s comments on the controversial BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’, which is critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has caused a furore among students at the central university.

Mansoor, who assumed the role of AMU VC in May 2017, came under criticism for his opinion piece in the Indian Express wherein he stated that the documentary is biased reportage and heaped praise on Modi. 

“The recent BBC series, The Modi Question, is a perfect example of the “white media’s burden” - it is an unwanted and unsubstantiated commentary on a subject that they are prejudiced against,” Mansoor stated in the op-ed while adding that the ‘mindless targeting’ fails several tests. 

AMU students slams VC’s views in op-ed

Though the VC’s opinion piece is a representation of his personal views, students believe that Mansoor’s claim that Muslims want to move on from the past is not representative of the entire community. 

“The VC’s claims are vague and inaccurate. AMU has witnessed state brutality, especially during the 2019 CAA-NRC protests. It is evident that he has a lot of pressure on him due to his position as a government representative,” said an AMU student, who didn’t wish to be identified. “You cannot move towards the future without looking at the past. They should start with providing justice to the Gujarat Riots victims, an example being Bilkis Bano,” the student added. 

Multiple reports suggest that the BBC documentary’s links were ordered to be taken down by the Centre from social media platforms such as Twitter and Youtube, with the tech giants agreeing to follow through on the same. Despite the controversy surrounding the documentary, the students got their hands on the investigative report. 

“Most of us have watched the entire documentary or in part as we are all bothered about the issue. There have been discussions about the documentary among us. The majority of us don’t share the same views as the VC,” stated Nidal Siraj, an AMU student, who referred to Mansoor’s comment that the BBC has to shed its “white media’s burden”.

“The need of the hour is to focus on the past and understand the wrongs. The VC’s article is a big blunder and not suited for the office he holds,” added Siraj. 

AMU’s own problems due to Centre, say students 

With thousands of non-teaching staff at AMU going on protests over non-payment of salaries and permanent appointment at the varsity, students have urged the VC to look within rather than propagate the government’s talking points. 

“AMU’s staff is protesting out on the streets and there is a serious issue of lack of funding for the university. As the VC of the University, I am pretty sure Mr. Mansoor understands the impact it is having on AMU,” stated Ghazi Mohammad, a student at the public university. “Maulana Azad National Fellowship has been restricted for minority research fellows due to the Centre, the VC has looked past all that to praise the government,” added Ghazi. 

AMU defends VC, says ‘his own view’ 

Responding to the flak by students, an official spokesperson at AMU defended VC Mansoor over his comments in the opinion piece. 

“It is a democratic country and the VC has every right to express his opinion. He has raised some good points, including on Triple Talaq, which he has the right to and the students can disagree with the statements,” stated the spokesperson, who didn’t wish to be named. 

With certain students at the University of Hyderabad screening the documentary at the institute amidst restrictions on it, there’s no chance AMU will follow suit, according to the official.

“I believe students can view it in an individual capacity but we haven’t heard about students planning a public screening on the same,” the official added. 

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