Will Sonia deliver on her Aligarh pledge?



UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had to call off what could have been a historic visit to the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) due to “bad weather” this past Saturday (February 16).

Instead, she made a convocation speech from Delhi, played out to students via an audio conference system.

Gandhi, speaking in some chaste Urdu, seemed to back a “minority status” for the university, a key Muslim demand, caught in a long legal dispute.

“Mai aap logon ko yakein dilana chahti hoon ki iss azim university ki taarikhi kirdaar aur kudmukhtari ko banaye rakhne ki har mumkin koshish karungi (I assure you that I will try everything possible to preserve the historical character and autonomy of this august institution,” the Congress chief said. She said she was aware that the matter was before the Supreme Court.

Although it was to have been an apolitical visit, Gandhi’s address to Aligarh was keenly watched by the community ahead of a general election, which some analysts predict, could be less than a year away.

She held up university’s multi-cultural traditions, referring to its “Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb”, a well-known phrase Muslims proudly use to describe Hindu-Muslim cultural confluences in British-era Awadh.

Had the visit gone through, the Congress leadership would have got a first-hand opportunity to gauge the political mood in the aftermath of the Afzal Guru’s hanging. The government has faced criticism from various quarters for the execution and there had been some resentment on the university campus, popular with Kashmiri students.

Is it probably the case, as some rumours suggest, that this could have weighed in on her decision to visit the university?

Gandhi attributed her aborted trip to rainy weather — much of north India faced squally conditions last week. She was supposed to take a helicopter to the venue, which was not possible.

Yet, I am sure she would have got a warm and uproarious welcome by Aligarhians.

Muslim educator Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan had founded the Aligarh Muslim University (then Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College) after returning from England in 1875. Modelled on the Cambridge, it was to serve as India’s first western-style university for Muslims.

The university has been the alma mater of many Muslim elites and a political nerve centre. India’s vice-president Hamid Ansari pursued an MA degree in political science at the university and later earned his doctorate there.

The key question remains how forcefully Gandhi would intervene to bestow the minority status.

Aligarh’s minority status – in the eyes of Muslims — constitutes a bedrock freedom, given to them by the Constitution’s hallowed Articles 30 and 29, which govern fundamental rights. One of these allows minorities to set up and run their own institutions. Fundamental rights can never die, cannot be forfeited or surrendered.

Aligarh’s minority status was struck down on a technical, not substantive point. Although the original institution was set up by the community, led by Sir Sayyid, the university was later set up by an Act of the then colonial British government.

In 1968, the university’s minority character was overturned in the landmark Azis Pasha case, which said that, although initiated by Muslims, the university itself was set up by an Act of British Parliament. This may be a technically valid point, but that does not materially alter the institution’s character.

The former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, has similarly promised to do all it takes to restore the minority character of the university. However, action speaks louder than words.

The government should now intervene to change its stance in the courts. Otherwise, Gandhi’s promise of support and her endorsement of the university’s historical character will be seen as mere tokenism, which doesn’t cut ice with Muslims now the way it did in a bygone era.

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  • Anonymous

    Law should encourage free speech rather than inhibit it.Besides,law, specially the archaic ones should not be used to silence critics..

    [Reply]

  • NoDoubleStandard

    Well, I would like to see you make a similar persuasive argument in favour of liberal views when it comes to a particular region. As in when people criticize that religion

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  • pankaj#1

    Zia;
    When you say, minority character of this University, what you mean by it? Please elaborate.

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    Dr Mishra Reply:

    good question Dr Pankaj

    [Reply]

    pankaj#1 Reply:

    Thanks.

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    engricn Reply:

    minority like brhmns of india.hiding among hindus but keeping their identity entact.

  • Anonymous

    AMU was the focal point of Pakistan movement. It should have been closed down in 1947.

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    engrich Reply:

    pakistan was british plan.

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    Akhtar Arif Reply:

    Hey education institution ……….. is not closed. its the symbol of education and root of dessipation of knowledge. Both muslims, hindus and all are imparted education here. The first graduate of AMU was a hindu. Only idiot with biased views will have such opinion.

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    Raghavendra Reply:

    If both hindus and muslims both study then why you people want minority status to that university my dear? let it be an university for all communities and not just muslims

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  • http://twitter.com/rahulgrover88 CArahulgrover88

    what is the minority status , aint amu has majority muslims students?

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  • kanishka

    Here is the standard response to all your rantings:

    “We would have listened to your sob-stories if Muslims were facing
    problems only in India. But your folks seem to be having problems throughout
    the world including in your own Muslim Ummah where the Shias and Sunnis have
    been at each other’s throats for the last 1400 years now! There is not a single point of
    time in the Islamic History when the religion of PEACE was ever at peace either
    with the non-muslims or even with fellow Muslims (from rival sects)! Your
    death-cult has proven to be a thorn in everyone’s rear. Will Aligarh Univ ever work for peace? No Never.

    Ever heard of this
    saying:

    “When in
    minority, blow up the KAFIRS; when in majority, blow up the FAKIRS”
    or

    “When in minority, blow up the infidels; when in majority, blow up each
    other”?”

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    momn doter Reply:

    good one dude. My thoughts exactly

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    Akhtar Arif Reply:

    Muslims are facing problems in iraq…… after fake charges of WMDs and subsequent war…………killing 8 million iraqis by sanctions on essential items and wars of colonisation for oil. Its shameful demoncratic world barking…….. on mind control media as the war in iraq as war of terror but they are creating terrror. Shame on imperialistic alliance craving for OIL and energy dependency killing innocents. Saddam was a ruthless dictator but he was killed to be replaced by puppet regime and divide sectarian division of muslims. Afghanistan had banned OPIUM smuggling in 1996 so by 2001 after false flag 9/11 the supply of illegal opium drugs were not in market so the US attacked them in the name of extremist ideology. About 100,000 people die avoidably from opiate drug-related causes each year. The US Alliance restored the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry from 6% of world market share in 2001 to over 90% today. It can accordingly be estimated that about 0.1 million people per year x 0.9 x 9 years = 0.8 million people have died globally due to US Alliance restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry, this including about 100,000 Americans and 3,000 Australians. Shame on people following blindly the western news and media without intellectual analysation.

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    Akhtar Arif Reply:

    `Hinduism’, JAWAHARLAL NEHRU said in

    his “THE DISCOVERY OF INDIA” (Page 37):

    “HINDUISM as a faith is vague, amorphous, many sided, all things

    to all men. It is hardly possible to define it, or indeed to say

    definitely whether it is a religion or not, in the usual sense of the

    word. In its present form, and even in the past, it embraces many

    beliefs and practices, from the highest to the lowest, often

    opposed to or contradicting each other.”

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    Akhtar Arif Reply:

    The incontestible evidence of the previous chapters prove beyond

    any shadow of doubt that `Hinduism’ is merely a legalised form of

    slavery to the Brahmin race. It is not a religion, but a cancer and a

    disease that must be fought at all costs if this world is to survive.

    The plagues of Nazism and Totalitarianism, which have claimed

    more than 200 million lives this century alone, have their roots in

    Brahmanism, the former having been originated by Pandit Manu,

    and the latter by Pandit Kautilya. The death and destruction, the

    sheer human misery caused by Huinduism has already exceeded

    that which would be caused by a full-scale nuclear holocaust.

    The Ramayana and the Mahabharat are no doubt GREAT stories,

    but they are also stories that belong to India’s ancient past. We

    cannot scientifically or factually prove the authenticity of these

    tales, and as such, we cannot accept Hinduism as a religion.

    Religion is a “man to God” relationship and not a “man to man”

    relationship. To reach God, treating fellow human beings with

    love, justice and equal rights is a duty upon the believer. Most

    54

    religions preach these ideals. Unfortunately Hinduism, which

    originated from the Brahmins, preaches that to reach your God

    you should not treat them with justice or give them equal rights.

    On the other hand Hinduism teaches a man how to cheat and

    enslave people in the name of “Religion”. With this technique, 5%

    (Brahmins) of India’s population have control over 95% of its

    people.

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  • Nirode Mohanty

    That University should be named as Aligarh University. It was created just to have Muslim Identity and to create Pakistan. It is serving the hard core radicals. Indian tax payers money should not support it.No place for communalism please. Ms. Gandhi be a true national, do not buy their votes

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  • Rana

    How about a blog that critiques radicalism in Islam written from the perspective of a free-thinking, liberal muslim. There aren’t too many of the latter and so your blog could be a good starting point for it. Then you are self-reflexive about the flaws within your own religion as you are about the majority’s so called “oppressive” rule.

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    Faulitics Reply:

    Zia is not a liberal or a free thinker. He sounds pretty communal to me.

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  • Rahul chodo

    Please this Zeehadi jurnalist Zia always pick and choose the subject which would lies about the Muslim status in India in the light of paid justice Sacchar report. I think Hindu majority India certain pockets Hindus are the most sufferers economically and financially and it has been kept that way because Congress party headed by Sonia Maino is a avid Hindu hater and she spent all the dole out social scheme targeting only the upliftment of the Muslim with Saccahr report which Con party already made it by paying handsome amount to justice scahhar. Now some shoul ask this Zeehadi journalist Mr.Zia to describe the minority status of the Hindus in Paksitan or may be the whole 53 Islamic nation. What the status of the non_Muslim? Hindus? Please tell the truth. If you can’t then majority Hindus have every right to kick your ugly face back to Pakistan. That is the only reason these corrupt Muslim alwsyas prefer Congress in power even at the cost of the present scams and the loot. Because these selfish Muslim knew about their barbaric genocide of the Hindus and they did not want to take any chance in supporting any other party rather than Congress.

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  • momn doter

    You are a muslim, what’s with Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan and Gandhi.

    [Reply]

  • Faulitics

    Another boring article on a boring topic when there are so many interesting “Muslim” topics for this “Muslim affairs” writer.

    [Reply]

  • Faulitics

    Seconding Rajeev’s point, here is one fact about this wonderful place which Zia left out. Maybe he “forgot”. From Wikipedia

    -Before 1939, faculty and students supported an all-India nationalist movement. After 1939, political sentiment shifted toward support for a Muslim separatist movement. Students and faculty mobilised behind Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League hence became an epicentre of Pakistan Movement

    So it was a hub of anti India and communal Islamist forces even back in 1947. Zia didn’t say if things changed in 2013 or its still the same.

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    engricn Reply:

    all because of high caste hindu support to british robbers and occupiers.

    [Reply]

  • indian

    shaala shuorer baccha

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  • Debasish

    Why should we have a Aligarh Muslim University or a Banaras Hindu University is a secular nation? Why should we talk about “minority” status for a university in a secular nation? Why can’t we rise above religion? Zia – you were seeking the answer to the question “Am I a Muslim first or an Indian first?”. From your posts, the readers definitely know the answer.

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    Anonymous Reply:

    AMU divided the nation whereas BHU has not. There is the difference. Don’t try to get certificate of secularism from communal muslims.

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    engrich Reply:

    both have divided india and sodiety.pakistan was result of british plan.generally muslims were against it.

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  • Ravi

    This is NA Pak hafees on the line.

    I Na- Pak hafees hereby declare that we should not keep crying discrimination discrimination discrimination….

    After all we are backward becasue idiots like me make youngsters into violent suicide bombers and get them to hate humanity.

    Muslims will only progress if they stuff me up…. and the thought process of alienation I represent….

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  • PS!

    India is secular only because India has a Hindu majority. In those pockets where Muslims are in majority, we know exactly the kind of ‘tehzeeb’ that is being heaped on non-muslim populations. The same Indian people, if converted to the Muslim faith, will behave like Pakistanis, Bangladeshis etc. Articles 29 & 30 are NOT required in a Hindu country AND, they will be erased in letter & spirit in a Muslim country/ dominated area within India. Look at Kashmir, parts of Kerala, UP, West Bengal, Bihar, Hyderabad and one can realize the truth for oneself.

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    engricn Reply:

    India is secular only because India has a Hindu majority

    hinduism is not religion

    [Reply]

  • Abhi

    “Gandhi, speaking in some chaste Urdu, seemed to back a “minority status”
    for the university, a key Muslim demand, caught in a long legal
    dispute.”
    The idea of a university, devoted solely to this community or that, is what is keeping the country backward in the field of education in the world; so much so, that there is NO university in India which counts in the top one hundred in the world. A university, by the very name, should imply something devoted to universal good, and not for the good of any particular community.

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