NEW DELHI: Aligarh Muslim University Vice-Chancellor Lt Gen retd) Zameer Uddin Shah on Saturday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with a delegation and told him that denying minority status to the university would be detrimental to the interests of the Muslim community. He also raised with the PM the issue of the Human Resource Development Ministry’s objection to AMU having campuses in West Bengal, Bihar and Kerala.
Shah brought to Modi’s notice the 1977 election manifesto of the Janata Party where it had pledged to restore and preserve AMU’s minority character. The Jan Sangh, the predecessor party of the ruling BJP, was part of the Janata Party then.
“The Prime Minister listened to us and promised us to examine the issue,” Shah told Express.
The Vice-Chancellor had recently claimed that HRD Minister Smriti Irani had in a meeting with Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on January 9 said the AMU centres had been set up “illegally” and that her ministry wouldn’t provide them with any funds.
Holding that the campuses had the approval of the President and, therefore, couldn’t be called “illegal”, Shah also said Irani didn’t give him an audience where he could have discussed the issues. The university was granted minority status during UPA rule along with Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university.
However, the Modi government is of the view that neither university can have minority status as both were established under the respective acts of Parliament. The matter is being heard by the Supreme Court. Asked about the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus row and the hate speeches being made against Muslims, he maintained that no one could be called an anti-national for speaking against a political party. “If nothing is said against the Constitution why say it as anti national activity,” he asked.
The Vice-Chancellor said AMU would set up English schools in the minority-concentrated pockets of the country, the first of which had already come up in Muzaffarnagar, the Uttar Pradesh district which was hit by communal riots in 2014. “These schools will offer modern scientific education, helping Muslim children along with children from other communities who have been deprived of good and quality education,” he said after meeting Modi.
The schools will be recognised by the Central Board of Secondary Education and managed by 129-year-old organisation All India Muslim Educational Foundation patronised by AMU.
The delegation also discussed issues related to research and education, skill development, and the Ganga rejuvenation programme.