In 1929, freedom fighter and social reformer, former Jat King Mahendra Pratap Singh (1886-1979) had given about 3.04-acre land for setting up a school to the Aligarh Muslim University on a 90-year lease. With the lease ending last year, descendants of the Jat King have demanded that the University’s school in Agra be renamed after him and the rest of the land that Singh had given to the AMU be returned to them.
A committee has been constituted by the varsity’s executive council to look into the matter and submit its report. The committee is headed by Professor Tariq Mansoor.
According to the Singh’s great-grandson Charat Pratap Singh, they had served a legal notice to the University regarding the expiry of the lease in 2018. He added that there were two chunks of land given by his great-grandfather to the Aligarh Muslim University for promoting education. However, he added that they are donating the bigger swathe of the land on which AMU’s City school in Agra is constructed to them in return for the renaming of the school after the former Jat King. The other smaller piece of land measuring 1.2 hectares, Charat said, should be handed back to the family or compensation should be made to them as per current market price of the land.
Mahendra Pratap Singh was an alumnus of the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College, which later became the AMU.
Tussle between the AMU and BJP over recognition to Singh
Last year, while campaigning during the by-elections in Aligarh’s Iglas seat, CM Yogi Adityanath had announced that the state government would establish a university in Singh’s name, who despite having made such generous contributions to the AMU, had not been recognised by the varsity. Subsequently, UP cabinet cleared a proposal for the construction of a university named after the former Jat king.
Singh had become a bone of contention between the varsity and the BJP. The demands for the renaming of the university had gained momentum in 2018 after the portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was found hanging in the AMU campus.
A few years back in 2014, a controversy was kicked up following BJP MP Satish Gautam’s suggestion to the AMU to celebrate the 128 birth anniversary of the Jat king on December 1 that year. The BJP had then arranged a small function at its office in Aligarh and received an assurance from the then vice-chancellor of the varsity to hold a seminar on Singh later.
Singh had defeated Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1957 Lok Sabha elections
Singh is known for setting up a provisional government in Afghanistan in the midst of World War I. He was later nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 1932. Singh had also been an elected Lok Sabha member during 1957-62 as an independent candidate from Mathura constituency, defeating the prolific BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who later went on to become India’s prime minister.