Minority-serving institutions like the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Millia Islamia remain difficult places to govern, with unruly campuses and violence-prone students, documents accessed by HT show.
The AMU is now banking on the university’s new vice-chancellor — a former deputy chief of the Indian army — as a source of overhaul. “I thank everybody for putting faith in a soldier,” Lt Gen Zameeruddin Shah, the new V-C, told HT. Yet, recent documents of the two universities raise larger questions about Muslims’ ability to run their own institutions, a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.
Last month, Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia told the Delhi HC that it was not prepared to hold student elections, citing a history of “assaults on faculty” and “bloody fracas on campus”.
Community leaders say much is being made of past incidents. Experts see the problems rooted in a Molotov cocktail of commercial interests and local politics. In 2007, a security meeting held by the then HRD minister Arjun Singh following three murders in AMU said the “possibility of an al-Qaeda link” should be probed.
“It is absolutely fallacious to talk about al-Qaeda or other such elements,” said associate professor Arshi Khan, adding the systemic problem had to do with staffers treating the university as their fiefdom.
Muslim educator and jurist Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan had founded the Aligarh Muslim University (then Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College) after returning from the Oxford in 1875.
According to veteran Urdu journalist Anis Jamaae, an old Jamia student, Jamia’s authorities have always feared that a powerful student union would hold them accountable.
But with Jamia’s minority status legally challenged again, says head of the Islamic studies Akhtarul Wasey, students ought to wait for some more time. That emotional appeal could cool matters down for the time being, an insider said.