AMU issue being raked up for ‘gains’ in UP poll: Muslim bodies

New Delhi: A group of Muslim organisations on Friday accused the NDA government of raking up the issue of status of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia for “gains” in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls and sought immediate reversal of the Centre’s stand that they are not minority institutions.

Speaking during a briefing organised by Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) here, the outfits asked why political parties, otherwise vocal on issues of minorities, are silent at a time when the tag of the two prestigious institutions is “being played with”.

“This looks like an attempt to polarise votes ahead of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. This move is aimed at creating division.

“There also seems to be an attempt being made to make this a Dalit versus Muslim issue and that too at a time when there are reports of suicide by a Dalit student (in Hyderabad University),” said Saleem Engineer, general secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind.

Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi had told the Supreme Court over a week ago that in the opinion of the government, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is not a minority institution. He said as the executive government at the Centre, it can’t be seen assetting up a minority institution in a secular state.

In his opinion to the HRD Ministry, Rohatgi is understood to have also quoted a 1967 Supreme Court judgement which had said that AMU is technically not a minority institution and the same principle applied to Jamia Millia Islamia.

“I wish what the Attorney General has said before SC is not the stand of government and the stand is reversed when the next hearing takes place on April 4, 2016,” Engineer said, adding opposition parties, including Congress, had been vocal about minority issues in the past but are now “keeping quiet”.

Navaid Hamid, president of All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat, termed the AG’s stand as an “assault” on the rights of minorities aimed at disturbing peace and held “people in Nagpur” – an apparent reference to RSS headquarters in the Maharashtra city – responsible for the same.

“The government is playing with fire. You are toying with fundamental rights of Muslims. Jamia Millia Islamia is also being involved now,” Hamid said as he explained the “historical context” behind formation of AMU to press the point that stand Rohatgi took was “anti-Constitutional”.

“The varsity was set up for upliftment of Muslims by Muslims. All its 124 founders were Muslims. Muslims had given money and land for the purpose. The previous governments have accepted AMU’s minority character, why this government is contradicting it then?” he said.

The organisations also released a booklet titled ‘AMU’s Minority Status: A Brief History’ during the briefing, which was also addressed by SIO president Iqbal Hussain, vice president of JNU-Delhi students’ union Shehla Shora, ex-AMU students’ union chief Abdulla Azzam and Jamia Students’ Forum leader Meeran Haider.