Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 14 will lay the foundation stone of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh University, named after the Jat freedom fighter, journalist, social reformist. Last year, the Uttar Pradesh cabinet had cleared a proposal to set up a new university in Aligarh, named after Mahendra Pratap Singh.
Who was Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh?
Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh was an Indian freedom fighter, social reformer, revolutionary, writer, journalist who served as President in the Provisional Government of India, which served as the Indian Government in exile during World War I.
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.
The freedom fighter also took part in the Balkan War in the year 1911 along with his fellow students of MAO college. In recognition, the government of India issued postage stamps in his honor.
Mahendra Pratap Singh, who was an alumnus of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which later became the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), had given 3.04 acres of land to the university on lease for constructing a school in 1929. The freedom fighter donated land to various educational institutes, including the AMU.
However, Singh’s great-grandson, Charat Pratap Singh, said that they had served a legal notice to the university in 2018 about the expiry of the lease.
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.
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 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.
During his 2017 election campaign, Yogi Adityanath said, “He (Mahendra Pratap Singh) had given land for the purpose of establishing the university, but his name has not been mentioned on any plaque,” while promising to set up another university in Singh’s name.