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With ‘advice’ for Muslims, Ramdev wades into Aligarh Muslim University-Jinnah portrait controversy

Aligarh Muslim University-Jinnah portrait controversy: Amidst the ongoing controversy over placing the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnahs portrait at the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Yoga Guru Ramdev has said that Muslims, who do not attach importance to pictures or idols, should not worry about it. The Patanjali Ayurved Limited co-founder asserted Jinnah can never be an ideal figure to those who believe in the countrys unity and integrity. The ghost of Jinnah is hogging a lot of limelight. Muslims ought not worry about the Pakistan founders pictures as they do not attach importance to photographs or idols in keeping with the tenets of their faith, said Ramdev, who was in Nalanda district of Bihar to hold yoga classes. Ramdevs remark comes even as AMU Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor today met Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss issues concerning the premier academic institution. Singh assured Mansoor of all help from the central government in restoring normalcy in the university, an official privy to the meeting said. Mansoor later told reporters that the meeting was fixed long ago and had nothing to do with the current controversy. I have requested the Home minister to send central government officials for the recruitment of students in central services like the engineering service, he said. The vice chancellor said the portrait of the Pakistan founder had been hanging in the AMU students union office since 1938 and it was a non-issue. BJP MP Satish Gautam had written a letter to Mansoor objecting to the portrait, triggering a row that led to two youths being arrested in connection with incidents of violence and exams being postponed to May 12. The vice chancellor had yesterday told students on a sit-in over the issue to get back to their studies. In an open letter, he urged them not to fall into the trap of certain forces which are bent upon destroying the image of our alma mater and are playing with your bright future. The university has formed a 16-member coordination committee of senior faculty members to talk with the protesting students. Several AMU students are on an indefinite dharna after a clash with the police on May 2 when they were demanding action against right-wing protesters who had entered the campus, shouting slogans. They are asking for a judicial probe into the police inaction and the manner in which the row erupted after the BJP MP objected to the portrait. Pitching for Yogas inclusion in the school curriculum, Ramdev said the ancient discipline of yoga must not be described as being pro-Hindu or against Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Those having a problem with Gayatri Mantra can practice yoga by reciting the name of Allah. Also, no tantra-mantra (sorcery) is involved in yoga, he said. He has also lauded Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumars decision to ban sale and consumption of alcohol in the state. Ramdev said liquor, petrol and diesel are the chief sources of revenue for any government, and that it must have taken a lot of courage to take such a bold move. Noting that Bihar had immense agriculture potential, Ramdev said his Patanjali Group was looking forward to setting up agro-based industrial units in the state. Replying to a query, the yoga guru said he has received the invitation for the wedding of RJD leader Tej Pratap Yadav.