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01 October 2011

Movement for Kishanganj AMU Centre gains momentum

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By Manzar Imam

Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi: The delay by the State Government of Bihar in providing land to establish a special centre of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) at Kishanganj has angered the people of Kishanganj and adjacent districts of Purnea Commissionerate.

To put forth its demand to provide land and to galvanize support to pressurize the government, the AMU Kishanganj Co-ordination Committee convened a national meeting here at India Islamic Cultural Centre, Lodhi Road on 30 September.

The initiative is now taking form of a mass movement that may take the Nitish-led NDA government by surprise.

On the basis of Fatimi Committee’s recommendations during the UPA-I government, Aligarh Muslim University had announced to establish some extension centres which are now called special centres in the minority concentrated areas where literacy rate is very low.

The establishment of two centres at Malappuram in Kerala and Murshidabad in West Bengal is the implementation of the same plan.

Speakers from across social, political, academic and media spectrums addressed the convention and criticized Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s lackadaisical approach in providing land for the proposed centre.

Nitish would be unfortunate if the center is not established during his tenure, said Aziz Burney, group editor of Urdu daily Rashtriya Sahara and its sister Urdu publications. Burney wondered as to why the government was seeing so much problem in providing a small chunk of land to establish an educational institution forgetting the fact that some of the country’s magnificent buildings stood on Muslim Waqf lands.

AMU professor Dr. Saud Alam Qasmi took a strong exception to the government’s intension. He opined that some people had a “genetic problem” to oppose every move taken for the uplift of marginalized communities.

Advocating de-centralization of education, Anuranjan Jha, former CEO of CNEB news channel said that the issue was “very serious”. Pledging to extend his support to the move, Jha said that the issue needed to be seen above caste and religious lines.

The audience had some tickling moments when Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav came to the podium. He questioned whether Nitish was sincere in providing land for the centre. He termed the center’s demand as a legitimate right of the people.

Afzal Hussain, owner of a large private land, who has shown interest to give land for the center, rued that he received telephone calls from everyone when he expressed his desire to give land to the centre. But after his announcement, his name was being dragged into unnecessary controversies and he was being intimidated.

Hussain said that when pushed into an unwarranted trouble, nobody came to his rescue and he was fighting it all alone.

Akhtarul Iman, an MLA from Kishanganj district, who has been closely following developments in the land provision issue, regretted the fact that the people of that northeastern part of Bihar called Seemanchal were forced to migrate to the other parts of the country for livelihood. Not only this, the people of this region are compelled to go to other parts of India even for education and health-related issues as there were no proper academic institutions and hospitals.

Amid echoing claps, the AMU Vice Chancellor Prof. P.K. Abdul Azis received a standing ovation when his name was called over the dais. The VC detailed the chronology of events in the entire process so far.

A thumping standing ovation was given to Maulana Mohammad Asrarul Haque Qasmi, Member of Parliament from Kishanganj who has been trying hard for over one and half years to get the required contiguous plot of land to set up the centre.

In his presidential address, Maulana Qasmi said that he was not fighting against any individual. Our fight is for a cause to change our condition, said he.

[Manzar Imam is Special Correspondent of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached at manzarimam@rediffmail.com]

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