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NEW DELHI(PTI): Scientist Goverdhan Mehta will be the chief guest at the annual convocation of Jamia Millia Islamia on January 19 as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed his inability to preside over the event due to time constraints.
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. So, we extended an invite to Goverdhan Mehta who has given his consent following which we decided a suitable date,” 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 convocation ceremony will also see Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra being conferred with the Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa). “Mehta, FNA, FRS, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Hyderabad, former Director of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and presently National Research Professor and Lilly Jubilant Chair will be the Chief Guest,” an official statement said.
“Degrees/Diplomas will be awarded to those candidates who have passed their examinations in the year 2014. Medals will also be given to the toppers of the same year. PhD scholars whose results have been notified up to November 30, 2015 will also be awarded degrees,” it added.