Aligarh: With the land lease given to the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh having expired last year, the descendants of the Jat king, late Mahendra Pratap Singh (1886-1979), a freedom fighter and social reformer who donated land to various educational institutes, including the AMU, have demanded that the land be returned to them.
The family of the Raja also wants the university’s city school to be renamed after him.
They have also said that the rest of the land that Singh had given to the AMU on a 90-year lease, which expired last year, be returned to them.
The AMU executive council has set up a committee to look into the matter and submit its report.
The officials said that Mahendra Pratap Singh, who was an alumnus of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which later became the AMU, had given 3.04 acres of land to the university on lease for constructing a school in 1929.
Singh’s great grandson, Charat Pratap Singh, said that they had served a legal notice to the university in 2018 about the expiry of lease.
He said, “There were two pieces of land given by my great grandfather to the AMU for promoting education. We are donating the bigger chunk of land on which AMU’s city school is constructed and, in return, the school should be named after him.”
The former Jat king’s family has asked for another small piece of land measuring 1.2 hectare to be returned to them. “They can return the land or compensate us at the current market price of the land,” Charat said.
In 2014, a controversy had erupted, when BJP MP Satish Gautam had asked the AMU to celebrate the 128th birth anniversary of the Jat king on December 1.
The BJP had organised a small programme at its office in Aligarh and had got an assurance from the then vice-chancellor to hold a seminar on Singh later.
Last year, the state cabinet had cleared a proposal to set up a new university in Aligarh, named after the Jat freedom fighter.
“He had given land for the purpose of establishing the university, but his name has not been mentioned on any plaque,” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said during his election campaign in 2017 while promising to set up another university in Singh’s name.
Mahendra Pratap Singh, who set up a provisional government in exile in Afghanistan during World War I, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1932. He was also elected to the second Lok Sabha (1957-62) as an independent candidate from Mathura defeating Bharatiya Jan Sangh’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who later became the Prime Minister.