Mainstream, VOL LIII No 22, May 23, 2015
Nayar’s Views have Disturbed . . .
Friday 22 May 2015
Kindly refer to the article of senior journalist Kuldip Nayar, “Disturbing Trend at AMU”, published in your prestigious publication on May 16, 2015.
Mr Nayar, while expressing his dismay and concern after returning from Aligarh, has claimed that “Aligarh is the place where Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the eminent freedom fighter, was abused before the country’s partition. The students had found him in a train compartment. He was travelling from Delhi to Calcutta from his hometown. They took off their clothes and booed him to show all the disrespect which they could.”
In this respect, I would like to clarify that the group of activists which showed disrespect to Maulana Azad mostly comprised Muslim League elements and there was no participation of the Aligarh Muslim University students in this fracas. In fact, the Aligarh Muslim University invited Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister in free India, to deliver the Convocation Address on February 20, 1949, and he was also conferred with Doctor of Theology (D.Th.) honoris causa at the same convocation. The Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union too honoured him with its prestigious Hony. Life Membership. These positive aspects have not been touched upon in Mr Nayar’s article.
Maulana Azad, accepting Sir Syed’s influence on him, said: “There has been a time in my life when Sir Syed’s works left a great impression on my mind; it was the initial period of my student days.”
Acknowledging Sir Syed’s contribution in nation-building, Azad said: “Sir Syed and his companions had established not only a College in Aligarh but they had created a progressive centre for all literary and educational activities. He became the central force of these activities surrounded by the most creative minds of the time.”
Maulana Azad also appreciated the role of the students of this University in free India, saying: “I am happy that a new wave of life has started emerging after 15th August, 1947 in the old environment of this University, which is getting bolder and prominent with every passing day. You have timely realised what should be the approach of your University in the changed scenario. You have successfully responded to the demands of the situation and changed your stance in conformity with the need of hour without any delay. I have no inhibition in saying that by this gesture, you have not only rendered a great service to this institution but also the whole Muslim community of India. I congratulate you on this great achievement.”
The students of this University have been involved in nation-building from the very beginning. Their contribution is acknowledged in every field. It would be grave injustice to the students to draw the conclusion that they “do not appear to have joined the national mainstream”.
At the AMU, we take pride in multiculturalism and plurality of religious and social diversity. Doesn’t this cultural identity, which ultimately merges into pluralism, make our University a shining example of ‘unity in diversity’? We are proud to be Indians and put nation over religious and cultural identity. This is the foundation of the Aligarh Muslim University.
The demand for retaining minority status for the Aligarh Muslim University is not new. This notion derives support and authenticity from the constitutional promise allowing “all minorities, whether based on religion or language, to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice” under Article 30(1). The Constitution even goes further to say under clause (2) that “the State shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language”. The Aligarh Muslim University students have only stressed this point of a constitutional guarantee.
We have always honoured the views of Mr Kuldip Nayar. He is an enlightened individual, secular to the core—but his views have “disapp-ointed and disturbed” the Aligarh fraternity.
Dr Rahat Abrar
(Public Relations Officer, Aligarh Muslim University), Aligarh