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Muslims of Bhopal wake up from deep slumber to clamour for AMU regional centre

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By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Waking up from deep slumber Muslims of Bhopal have now realized that they have been deprived of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) regional centre in the city by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Madhya Pradesh Government which did not concede to allot 250-300 acres of land required for the purpose to the AMU authorities. This awakening came on January 15, just two days before the tenure of the outgoing Vice Chancellor of the University Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis’s term ended on January 17, 2012.

Realising that except at Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) the four other off-campus AMU regional centres were taking shape at Murshidabad (West Bengal), Malappuram (Kerala), Kishanganj (Bihar) and Khuldabad (Maharashtra), the Muslims of Bhopal felt the sense of loss. They came out of their reverie to retrieve the lost opportunity so that the new the generation may not accuse them of having committed a historical blunder by their inactiveness, inertness, indolence and inertia.

And as such at the bidding of Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA) Madhya Pradesh Branch a meeting was hurriedly called at short notice here at Hameed Manzil on Sunday (January 15) of AMU alumni and prominent citizens of Bhopal to discuss the issue and how to go about it. The meeting was called to discuss as how to mount pressure on the Madhya Pradesh government, which reportedly had washed off its hands refusing to allot land for AMU regional centre at Bhopal, to change its stand and allot land as per requisite.

The former Pro-Vice Chancellor of IGNOU Prof. Baseer Ahmed Khan, who is also a senior AMU alumni, was invited specially for the meeting from New Delhi to ignite the sagging spirits of the Aligarians in special and Bhopal Muslims in general and instill confidence in them so as to rise to the occasion and take up the challenge of getting the AMU regional centre at Bhopal established.

Prof. Baseer appealed to the Aligarians to launch a peaceful mass movement in the whole of Madhya Pradesh encompassing like-minded organisations under the banner of AMUOBA. “Any agitation without organizational support is destruction”, he remarked.

At the end of the meeting it was decided to form a committee for the purpose of acquiring land for the AMU regional centre at Bhopal. AMUOBA president Mohammad Iqbal Qazi was named convenor of the committee who was authorized to name the members of the committee which would be announced later on. It was also decided to meet the State Governor Mr. Ram Naresh Yadav and the Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan submitting memoranda raising the issue of allotment of land for setting up AMU regional centre of the Central University.

Addressing the meeting Prof. Baseer Ahmed Khan said it is the rightful claim of Muslims and not a largesse of anyone as they are also tax-payers and have equal right to the resources in the country. He said nothing can be achieved in life without pressurizing the government of the day. In order to build public pressure a campaign should be launched for the AMU centre at the state-level which should be broad-based with like-minded people from all walks of life roped in to join the bandwagon.

Prof. Baseer stressed the need that it is pertinent to clear the perception that only Muslims would benefit by the opening of AMU centre in Bhopal. The bias should be dispelled from the minds of the public at large, politicians of all hues and bureaucrats as well that the proposed AMU centre would cater to the needs of Muslims alone as for present there is no reservation for them in admissions. All communities would be eligible to pursue studies in various courses offered by the AMU regional centre.

He said AMU is just not an institution for advancement of knowledge but it is a movement which played a crucial role in India’s freedom struggle. The AMU alumni were in the forefront of the freedom struggle who cooperated and coordinated moves with Mahatma Gandhi to throw away the yoke of British rule from the country. These historical facts are unknown to the people in the present era whose awareness in such matters is at the lowest level.

He recalled that it was forgotten great freedom fighter Maulana Hasrat Mohani, a 1903 graduate from The Anglo-Muhammadan College, Aligarh, which went on to become Aligarh Muslim University in 1920, had first moved the resolution of “Mukammal Azadi / Poorn Swaraj” (complete Independence for India) in the Indian National Congress, (INC), session in Ahmedabad in 1921. While Gandhiji was yet not prepared for it and was talking of Home Rule under the British supremacy.

However, Maulana Hasrat did not succeed in view of Gandhiji's influence and his resolution was rejected. He was in the vanguard of the freedom movement of India and took a leading part in the Non-cooperation Movement launched by the combined efforts of the Congress and the Khilafat Movement in 1922-23 and was sent to jail in 1924.

Similarly, another great freedom fighter Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, who was also an alumni of AMU, moved the resolution for India’s freedom in the first Round Table Conference in 1930-31 held in London. He was the Congress president, who handed over the charge of the party’s president post to Gandhiji in 1924 in the Indian National Congress, (INC), conference held at Belgaum, Prof. Baseer revealed.

However, he lamented that after India achieving Independence the contributions of the AMU alumni in the national life has declined and it has diminished over the years.

Prof. Baseer while cautioning Muslims not to despair, said: “Jab Tak Musalmaan Qaum Ka Ahsas Kamtari Dur NahiN Hogi, Koi Kaam Tab Tak NahiN Hosakta”. Until and unless Muslims become politically organized though they may not come to power but no government could be formed without their consent and go-ahead signal.

Speaking on the occasion Er. Ahmad Ayub, a very senior AMU alumni who was the brain behind and moving spirit for the rendezvous of AMU alumna for AMU regional centre in Bhopal, advocated Net campaign like Twitter, Face-book, LinkedIn etc. to launch awareness and make it a mass movement with social networking all over the state.

Adv. Sajid Siddiqui, Madhya Pradesh state president of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) emphasized on unity among the Muslim community to achieve the target of AMU centre. Muslims should spiritedly unite and not get cowed down by the BJP regime in the state, he added.

Besides Prof. Baseer Ahmad, Prof. Mateen Ahmad Siddiqui, Mohammad Afaq, S. Hasan and this Correspondent also addressed the meeting expressing their views over the issue with the hope that the Madhya Pradesh Government changing its stand will soon allot suitable piece of land to the AMU required for the purpose.

Sagheer Baidaar, a very senior Alig, AMUOBA vice president A. N. Siddiqui were present amongst others. Dr. Seraj Khan, who is one of the AMUOBA vice president, proposed a vote of thanks. At the outset Dr. Tasneem Habib, a member of the Board of Advisors of AMUOBA who conducted the proceedings with aplomb, briefly gave an account of the five AMU regional centres

Later talking to media persons Prof. Baseer said that it is a matter of pride for any state to get the centre of AMU as the university is not just confined to one particular community, but caters to all sections of the society. AMU is one of the institutions of national importance listed in the VII Schedule of the Constitution of India along with Banaras Hindu University. The prestigious AMU is also known world over for providing quality and affordable education to all sections of the society.

Prof. Baseer informed that the AMU had written the Madhya Pradesh Government for 250 to 300 acres of land in Bhopal “free of cost”. However, the state government in its reply two months back, reportedly said it was not interested in setting up of the proposed centre in Bhopal.

Replying to a question he said that there is no financial burden on the state government which has only to provide land whereas the Union Government would bear the entire cost for the rest including the recurring expenditure, he pointed out.

It may be pointed out here that the purpose of starting AMU regional campuses, as proposed in the 11th Five Year Plan, is to address the issue of educational and social advancement of the Muslims of India in the context of the social and educational exclusion highlighted by Justice Sachchar in his report submitted to the Government of India.

The Union Government has released about Rs. 25 crore to each of the two regional centres viz. Murshidabad in West Bengal and Malappuram in Kerala where the work for infrastructure has started and classes in some courses have begun in rented buildings.

When the AMU opens its centres in five States as approved by the University Bodies, it is proposed to replicate the Aligarh Muslim University model in all the centres. The university would establish a medical college, dental college, engineering college, law school, business school and various departments depending on the needs of the regional centres. The university will consult the local stake-holders before a decision is taken. The centres will be managed by the University Court and the Executive Council and the headquarters will be Aligarh.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]
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