A group of Muslim organizations 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 during a briefing organised by Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) at Press Club of India, Delhi.
Br. Iqbal Hussain, President, SIO of India 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”.
He added, the submissions made by the AG of India before the Hon’ble Supreme court on the minority character of AMU doesn’t only neglect the fundamental rights of minorities guaranteed under the constitution but also reflects the shaky commitment of the current dispensation towards the diversity of the Nation.
The change of central government’s stance on the Minority character of AMU amounts to the denial of historical facts. It went further to make similar remarks regarding the character of JMI tantamount to denying its minority character. SIO firmly believes and asserts that the character of AMU and JMI cannot be determined unless the specific historical context of their establishment is taken into consideration. The institution which is now known as AMU was founded by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and other Muslim leaders in the backdrop of 1857 for the educational uplifment of Muslims. Started as a school, then college i.e. Muhammadan Anglo Oriental (MAO) college in 1877 and later in 1920, by an Act of legislature, incorporated as AMU. This was the only way how a university had to be incorporated. Thus it is wrong to to suggest that AMU was established by the Act of 1920 rather it was incorporated as university by the said Act. It is important to buttress here that there was a fully fledged system and infrastructure prior to 1920. Even the Act of 1920 endorsed the minority character of the institution which is very much evident from the annexure of the Act which apart from many other things provides the list of 124 founder members and all of them are Muslims.
The Parliament again by an Amendment in 1981 reaffirmed the minority character of the institution and it is the duty of the Attorney General of India to defend the Act of parliament.
SIO finds the submissions of AG as unreasoned and unfounded ignoring the historical facts and the provisions of law and therefore stands bad in law.
Likewise the controversy regarding JMI’s minority character is ill founded and is wrongly taken.
NCMEI has adjudicated and held that “Jamia was founded by the Muslims for the benefit of Muslims and it never lost its identity as a Muslim minority educational institution”, and was, therefore, “covered under Article 30(1)… read with Section 2(g) of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act”.
Therefore SIO on behalf of the Muslim community demands entitlement of the community to “establish” and “administer” educational institutions of its choice under Article 30 of our constitution.
SIO has complete faith in the judiciary and hope that the Apex court will adjudicate the matter in the light of specific historical context of the establishment of these institutions and taking into consideration the right of minorities guaranteed under chapter 30 of our constitution.
Again SIO condemns the government’s shameful betrayal of AMU’s Minority Status and resolve along with the entire Alig and Jamia Fraternity to continue the struggle for our constitutional rights.
The organisation also released a booklet titled ‘AMU’s Minority Status: A Brief History’ during the briefing, which was also addressed by Mr. Navaid Hamid (President, All India Majlis e Mushawarat), General Secretary of Jamaate Islami Hind Prof. Saleem Engineer, Thouseef Madikeri & Layeeq Ahmed Khan National Secretary of Students Islamic Organisation, Vice president of JNU-Delhi students’ union Shehla Shora, ex-AMU students’ union chief Abdulla Azzam and Jamia Students’ Forum leader Meeran Haider, Alif Shukoor, General Secretay, SIO of India.