ABVP and BJYM leaders have alleged that non-Muslim hostel boarders at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) were not provided breakfast and lunch during Ramzan but the authorities asserted that lunch is served to students of any religion "on demand" during the holy month.
Vinay Varshney, a BJYM leader, on Tuesday alleged that by denying breakfast and lunch to Hindu boarders, the university authorities were "indirectly compelling them to observe fast during Ramzan".
AMU authorities, however, said while students not observing the month-long fast may have been inconvenienced during the first few days of Ramzan, there has always been a provision wherein a hostel boarder, be it non-Muslim or Muslim, is provided lunch "on demand".
A senior university official has confirmed that the HRD ministry has sought a written clarification on this matter. Jasim Mohammad, media consultant to the AMU vice-chancellor, told PTI, "After receiving complaints yesterday, the vice chancellor had issued written instruction reiterating that any student who is not fasting should inform the dining hall authorities and he will be provided lunch."
Mohammad said ever since the university was established, hostel dining rooms would remain closed during daytime. Those who did not fast would inform the hostel authorities and special arrangements were always made for providing them lunch.
He clarified that all students in the hostels were provided the pre-dawn meal (Sehri). Those who fasted would partake in Sehri and those who did not fast would be served the same food in breakfast.
"The AMU had thus put in place a tradition wherein sentiments of those who are fasting were honoured. No one was put under pressure to skip a meal," Mohammad said. Jyoti Bhaskar, a student of Mass Communication and a prominent youth activist at the AMU said, "It is sad that religious angle is being given to this entire issue."
"There is a provision in our hostel to provide us lunch (during Ramzan) if we give it in writing. When I was fasting during Navratri this year, the hostel mess used to provide us milk and banana as a mark of respect to our religious sentiments," he said.