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01 August 2011

SPECIAL REPORT: Maulana Vastanvi’s removal fallout of factionalism within Darul Uloom Deoband

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By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani


Ahmedabad/ Surat: After the exit of Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi from the post of Darul Uloom Deoband vice-chancellor recently, it seems that this hot seat has turned into a fireball as signalling Muslim unwillingness to forgive and forget the 2002 Gujarat violence.


Sometime ago he'd reportedly suggested that Muslims move on because they'd gained from development in Gujarat. It's true that the issue of the post-Godhra riots hasn't seen closure whether in terms of social healing or judicial resolution. But there's more to the fracas than meets the eye.


For one thing, Vastanvi's removal is viewed as a fallout of factionalism within the Islamic seminary and among community representatives from UP and Gujarat. Maulana Gulam Mohammad Vastanvi was the first Darul Uloom VC from outside UP. His ouster has been linked to a battle for control of the institution in UP's poll run-up. It's believed the political ambitions of certain Deoband-backed Muslim groups can be furthered in Vastanvi's absence.


While the controversy over Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi's removal from the post of Darul Uloom Deoband vice-chancellor is raging on, his younger brother has blamed politics in Gujarat for the entire episode.


Ibrahim Vastanvi has alleged that the Congress Party and its leaders hatched a conspiracy to remove his brother from the post. "By praising the Gujarat government and its development policies, Maulana Saab angered the Congress. To teach him a lesson, they plotted to remove him from the post," said Ibrahim Randera (Vastanvi), brother of Vastanvi.


According to Ibrahim, a veteran Congress leader led the entire conspiracy. He incited Darul Uloom members to create a storm over Vastanvi's words and put pressure on Majlis-e-Shura to act against him.


"That leader is behind the plot against Vastanvi. How can Majlis-e-Shura go for re-election when Vastanvi was chosen through election a few months ago? In the history of Darul Uloom Deoband, never has such an incident occurred till now," added Ibrahim.


He claimed that the V-C can't be removed without a reasonable cause, which is not what has happened inVastanvi's case.


While Vastanvi's image has not been harmed due to the incident, it has raised doubts about administrators of Darul Uloom Deoband, he said.


Soon after the decision of Majlis-e-Shura, Vastanvi went to London and was not available for comment. Sources close to him said that he will consult his legal advisor before taking any action against the decision of the Majlis-e-Shura.


According to politicial experts that this leader from Gujarat Congress may be Ahmedbhai Patel as he is also political adviser of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Moreover Ahmed Patel's relations are always sour with Vastanvi family. When Maulana Ghulam Saab praised Modi, Ahmedbhai reacted sharply.


Some souces pointed out that if Congress had played some part in removing Vastanvi, it is forgone conclusion that he is very much in with BJP, precisely with Narendra Modi.


Vastanvi's removal is now being seen as a truce between the warring factions of JUH, led by Arshad Madani and his nephew Mahmood Madani - a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh.


Though Vastanvi is a close relative of Arshad Madani, it was learnt that the Madanis were determined that his exit would be easier for them to stabilise JUH's grip on Dar-ul Uloom.


A JUH working committee member Maulana Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani, who was appointed the new V-C on last Sunday, is considered close to Mahmood Madani.


Sources also said the Madanis saw Vastanvi as a threat to their role in the Dar-ul Uloom. Vastanvi was also said to be close the Lok Sabha MP from Assam, Publisher of a English magazine Eastern crescent from Mumbai and perfume baron Maulana Badruddin Ajmal.
Ajmal, who was a member the managing council of Dar-Uloom, was recently sacked from the JUH, allegedly for supporting Vastanvi. The Madanis, it can be inferred, did not want another power centre, especially an outsider from the family, in the affairs of Dar-ul Uloom and JUH. All India Muslim Personal Law Board executive member and Samajwadi Party (SP) secretary Kamal Faruqui said whatever happened in Dar- ul Uloom was a welcome step. "The selection of vice chancellor is an internal matter of the Dar-ul Uloom. But it's learnt that the managing council has followed a democratic path to take the decision. This is a welcome step, which is good for Dar-ul Uloom and the Muslim community," Faruqui said.


Faruqui was seeking to make an alliance between both the Madanis.


Interestingly, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has also termed the election as an "internal matter" of the Dar-ul Uloom.


The Madanis, sources said, are also trying to put up a joint effort to push more candidates owing allegiance to JUH during the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.


JUH members are working in SP, BSP, Congress and RLD. "If they worked together, more JUH workers will become candidates, especially in western UP. It would improve the JUH's bargaining power," an observer of Muslim politics the state said.


On paper, they are related by law, Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi's daughter is married to Maulana Arshad Madani's son.


But ask anyone on the Dar-ul Uloom campus and he'll tell you how Madani, who lost the election for the vice-chancellor's office in January this year, had been fuelling the anger against Vastanvi.
Since the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind affairs are now keeping Madani busy, he isn't too keen on becoming the Mohtamim (chief rector) of the Dar-ul Uloom. But, at the same time, being able to have a say in setting the premier institution's agenda doesn't hurt, so he is more than happy to install a favourably disposed person be at the helm of the 145-year-old seminary.


Madani's earlier falling out with the Jamiat, sources say, was the reason why he was interested in seizing control of the Dar-ul Uloom. Holding the post of power in Deoband would have not only given Madani's faction legitimacy and the muchneeded political clout, but also given it access to funds. Being one of the most significant Islamic educational institutions in South Asia, the Dar-ul Uloom gets a steady stream of voluntary donations that are known collectively as zakaat . "In just a month, more than ` Rs. 20 crore come in as endowments to this legendary institution," a well-placed seminary official said.


[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

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