The Aligarh Muslim University will set up two centres in West Bengal and Kerala, varsity officials said here on Thursday.

“AMU has received the approval from the President for establishing two new centres of the university at Murshidabad and Malappuram,” University Vice Chancellor P.K. Abdul Azis said.

This is the first time that AMU will start special centres outside the city of Aligarh, he added.

“The university is thankful to the governments of West Bengal and Kerala for readily providing the required land free of cost,” he said.

Mr. Azis further said that it is the biggest gift of the Central government to the Muslim community for the promotion of minority education.

With this initiative, AMU would be in the forefront of a movement for the promotion of education, particularly among Muslims and other minorities in India, he said.

However, the establishment of the above two centres has been a subject of controversy both within the AMU fraternity and in political circles.

Several prominent alumni of the AMU, including members of the university, have opposed the setting up of these centres saying that there is “no provision in the university’s constitution to undertake this step”.

AMU Teachers Association Secretary Jamshed Siddiqui said, “This move violates in letter and spirit the basic ideals behind the establishment of this residential university. The step will lead to a major decline in educational standards and will dilute the residential character of this university. It also violates the University Act”.