With the allocation of lands and funds in its final phase, three
states in India are all set to see establishment of the Aligarh
Muslim University (AMU) facilitated centers on their soil. However,
courtesy to the lackluster attitude of the state government towards
the proposal, the much publicised AMU centre in Maharashtra is
hanging in doldrums.
As per the AMU proposal, University
authorities asked the selected states in the country to provide the
land so as to establish its off-campus centers. Taken against the backdrop of the
assessments made in the Sachar Commission Report and alarmingly low
literacy level of the Muslim community in India, the initiative aimed at regaining
the University a national stature and providing leadership to
minority education in the country.
According to University PRO Dr. Rahat
Abrar, the University had decided to establish
five regional AMU centers in the
minority concentrated backward areas. The decision
was endorsed by the Court in its meeting held on December 2, 2007
and later by its Executive Council in a meeting held on January 7,
2008. The sites proposed were Murshidabad in
West Bengal, Malappuram in Kerala, Katihar in Bihar, Bhopal in
Madhya Pradesh and Pune in Maharashtra.
"Moreover", Dr. Rahat says, "These distant
centers would be approved by the Central Government and it would also enable the University
to fulfill the responsibilities mandated by the AMU Act 1981."
As Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) -
known for the pivotal role it had played for the educational revival of the
Indian Muslims during the post 1857 tragic times - is still held in high esteem by the community, the decision was greeted with unprecedented
enthusiasm and much fanfare.
AMU center is for
"The AMU off-campus center in Maharashtra would benefit people
across the religion and community. It is not just meant for the
Muslims. If the campus is lost because of the negligence of the
government, it would be a big loss for the state."
- Ex Minister Anees Ahmed
Hence, following the University communiqués
to the respective chief secretaries in the five states, Kerala,
West Bengal and Bihar swiftly acted on the proposal and made the
land - measuring 250-300 acres as demanded by the authorities - available to
the University. Finally, the University authorities inspected the lands
and after their nod, the central government sanctioned the promised
funds amounting to 25 crore for these centers.
However, at the time when three of the
five states were showing remarkable promptness - of course after the
Muslim leaderships in these states
exerted pressure on the
respective governments - to grab the opportunity, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh did not care
even to reply to the University's requests.
"As per our plans in other states, to
establish the proposed off-campus AMU centre, we needed 250 to 300
acres of land in Pune. Hence, along with other states the University
wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra also. When we
did not get any reply, we sent a reminder.
Unfortunately, even the reminder met with the same fate. The result
is that in Maharashtra the University failed to show any
progress in this regard", Dr. Rahat Abrar disclosed to ummid.com.
On his part, Mahrashtra Chief Secretary
Johny Joseph when inquired about the issue by ummid.com said, "We did receive
the proposal from the University. But the University authorities
should come and identify the land. Unless they identify and locate
the land, how can we give nod to their proposal?"
When ummid.com insisted that the
University authorities have already finalised Pune as the venue of
the proposed AMU off-campus center and it is now up to the
government of Maharashtra to identify suitable land in the city,
Johny Joseph repeated, "The University authorities should visit the Pune city
and identify the land suitable for them."
Meanwhile, when ummid.com contacted
Arif Naseem Khan who has taken the oath as Minority Affairs Minister
in the newly formed Maharashtra government, he declined to comment
on the issue. Whereas former Minority Affairs Minister Anees Ahmed
was totally unaware if the erstwhile government had received any
such proposal from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
"I don't say that the AMU had not sent
the proposal for establishing the AMU facilitated centre to the
state chief secretary. What I say is if such a proposal from the AMU
was there why the chief secretary failed to present it in front of
the government? And if he had done so, why the proposal never came
for a discussion in the cabinet?", he said to ummid.com before adding,
"The fact is that there appears to be serious problems with the
bureaucracy in Maharashtra when it comes to addressing the issues
pertaining to the Muslim community."
Elaborating further the ex-minister
said, "The Government in its cabinet meeting held on July 22 this
year in Nashik had given sanctions for establishing ITI centers and
Girls' hostels in minority concentrated districts in North Maharashtra.
After the cabinet approval, every formality was also fulfilled. Yet the finance department is sitting
on these projects and is not releasing the required funds."
off-campus center in Maharashtra would benefit people across the
religion and community. It is not just meant for the Muslims. If the
campus is lost because of the negligence of the government, it would
be a big loss for the state", he warned.
Bihar which has
sanctioned the land for the AMU special center along with Kerala and
West Bengal is run by a government supported by the BJP. And the BJP
together with its saffron allies has openly expressed opposition to
the landmark proposals terming the entire plan - true to their
popular stand vis-à-vis Muslim interests - as yet another attempt
'to appease the Indian Muslims'.
Contrary to Bihar, Maharashtra is having
a Congress led government and the AMU proposal is having a strong
backing and financial support from the Congress-led UPA government
in center. Against this backdrop, one fails to
understand why the Maharashtra government is not showing any
interest in a proposal eagerly awaited by the Muslims to be
converted into a reality. Master of the power corridors undeniably
because of the Muslim support in the recently held elections, is the Congress-led government in Maharashtra
ready to show a respect for the strong desire brewing among the
vast majority of the Muslims in the state?