Why Aligarh Muslim University in the heartland of Jihadis in West Bengal?

published on July 8, 2009

AMU plan stirs misgivings
Author: BARUN GHOSH
Source Link: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090708/jsp/frontpage/story_11210081.jsp

Calcutta, July 7: Controversy is thickening around a budget plan to set up a campus of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Murshidabad.

Two questions are being raised — whether the Bengal government should have pushed for a full-fledged university instead of an AMU campus and whether Murshidabad, a sensitive border district, is the right venue for it.

In the budget, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had promised Rs 25 crore for infrastructure for the campus — an offer welcomed by the state government.

It is increasingly being argued that the proposal for the AMU campus at Suti in Murshidabad is a case of “competitive minorityism” between the Congress and the CPM.

The state government’s eagerness to have the AMU campus in Murshidabad is a reflection of the Marxists’ desperation to win back the confidence of the minority community, which deserted them in the last three elections.

“The move to set up an AMU campus is politically motivated. This is nothing but vote-bank politics. Why is the government not pushing for a separate, full-fledged university here instead of a campus of Aligarh Muslim University?” asked Osman Gani, former head of the department of Islamic history and culture in Calcutta University.

“AMU is neither Oxford nor Harvard. In fact, the whole thing has been initiated to woo Muslim votes both by the Congress at the Centre and the CPM in Bengal,” he added.

S.S.Z. Adnan, the chairman of the West Bengal Minority Commission, also felt that it would have been better “if there was a move to set up a separate, full-fledged university instead of an AMU campus”.

Minority welfare minister Abdus Sattar also felt a full-fledged university “would have been better”.

The government has plans to set up such a university at Bhangar in South 24-Parganas but the project is caught in land acquisition problems.

Some quarters also expressed reservations about Murshidabad as the venue. The central as well as the state government has over the years noted that Murshidabad is vulnerable to infiltration and anti-national activities from across the border.

“We don’t understand why Murshidabad has been chosen. Murshidabad, bordering Bangladesh, is not considered a proper venue as it has a history of border-related problems,” said a professor of Urdu in a city college. She added that Rajarhat-New Town could have been “an ideal place” for the campus.

Some academics felt that AMU was now “not particularly known for academic excellence”. Others worried about the social cost if the “sectarian politics” associated with the varsity makes its way to the Bengal campus.

Dabir Ahmed, reader of Urdu in Maulana Azad College, said: “The very purpose of higher education would be frustrated on the proposed AMU campus in Murshidabad if it becomes a hotbed of sectarian politics.”

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