In the last one year as AMU management and Government of India and State Governments of West Bengal and Kerala took definitive steps towards establishing two remote centres in Bengal and Kerala. But some vested interests who want to keep AMU the protected preserve for their families and friends, opposed the new centres which are expected to become Muslim universities in a few years. It was mindboggling to see why these people were trying to hurt their own backward Muslim community. But as the story deepened, many people discovered that it was a well-thought strategy by some people to safeguard promotions, jobs, businesses for their kith and kin who are employees at AMU or who have businesses at AMU. They misled and caused anxiety in the AMU alumni community by telling them that with the establishment of these centres AMU will not be a Muslim university any more and Muslim students will not get preference in admission at either AMU or at its centres.
By creating this opposition in the AMU alumni community, they hoped to put pressure on AMU management and then make arrangements to secure promotions for their kins and friends who are employees/teachers/businessmen at AMU. Some people formed several e-mail groups in a hurry and started dishing out make-believe write-ups that opposed the new centres. Even though they received almost no support from any worthwhile alumni, they declared that the alumni community is divided equally between those who support the centres and those who oppose it.
I was surprised when someone wrote to me about the West Bengal and Kerala Muslims who are expected to benefit from the two new centres, in pejorative terms as, “those lungiwala Muslims” and compared them badly with “us sherwani, pajama kurta wala class” whose university AMU is. So this is what it comes down to. The small set of a few UP/Bihar Muslims who are 90% of students/teachers at AMU feel threatened from the upcoming competition from the “other Muslims”. But their fear is totally unfounded.
However from what I have found in talking to most enlightened Urduwala Indian Muslims, including AMU alumni, in the last few weeks is that in fact the majority of them are for the establishment of the remote centres and for bringing more Muslims from the rest of India to AMU. They are happy at their university again becoming an all-India university. Most of the alumni think that this is the best thing to happen to AMU and the Indian Muslim community in 50 years. Unfortunately, however, the rejectionist front is continuing on the path to mislead and scare the AMU Alumni community with a variety of doomsday predictions.
We are for the welfare of the AMU and the Muslims of India. We have warm feelings especially for the students at AMU. We have no special friendship with the AMU management. I hope now that the Murshidabad Centre is a reality and the Mallapuram Centre will be a reality very soon. All AMU alumni will support this scheme for the expansion of AMU with 5 new Centres. There should be no distinction between the Lungiwala-Muslims and the Sherwani-Muslims. Aligarh belongs to everyone. I hope the rejectionists will reconsider their meaningless opposition and join the rest of us. I am especially hopeful that the young Muslims of India will support this drive for recovery of AMU from half a century of decline.
Let Aligarh once again lead the Muslims of India in the growth of education and a better life for our people, just as it did 130 years ago. Aligarh Paindabad.