New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be attending the convocation ceremony of the Jamia Milia Islamia University as the chief guest. The PM has declined the invitation due to prior engagements. The invitation had raised many eyebrows in the light of PM's comments about Jamia in the past.
Instead of Modi, scientist Goverdhan Mehta will be the chief guest at the annual convocation.
The varsity had in November extended an invite to Modi, which triggered a controversy as a number of alumni demanded withdrawal of the invitation in view of the comments made by Modi against the varsity in 2008.
Jamia had, however, rejected the demand and said it would wait till it hears from the PMO to decide on the convocation date. "We have got a reply from the PMO that the Prime Minister will not be able to visit the university due to time constraints," Jamia spokesperson Mukesh Ranjan said.
Ranjan said that the varsity has nothing to do with the protests from the alumni and it is looking forward to host Modi sometime in near future.
The protests by certain alumni came in the wake of the fact that Modi had attacked Jamia in 2008 after the Batla House encounter in September that year.
Addressing a gathering in Gujarat in 2008, Modi had said, "There is a university in Delhi called Jamia Millia Islamia. It has publicly announced that it will foot the legal fee of terrorists involved in act. Go drown yourself. This Jamia Millia is being run on government money and it is daring to spend money on lawyers to get terrorists out of jail. When will this vote bank politics end?"
Modi's comments had come following a statement by the then Jamia VC Mushirul Hasan that the university would offer legal aid to two of its students arrested for their suspected involvement in terror activities.
The varsity had announced that the convocation will be held on January 19 in the Sports Complex (Bhopal Ground) on Jamia campus. The convocation ceremony will also see Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra being conferred with the Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa).
(With PTI inputs)