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PM Modi’s AMU outreach sparks debate on campus

The Aligarh Muslim University campus.  

News of Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepting the invitation of the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University to be the chief guest at its centenary celebration on December 22 has sparked debate on the campus.

While the university administration is busy projecting the virtual address as a historic event, there is a section of students and teachers that is looking into the deeper meanings of the PM’s outreach to the centre of Muslim intelligentsia which has often been described as a hub of anti-national activities by his party’s members, including the local Member of Parliament.

With no election round the corner, some feel the Prime Minister could use the opportunity to repair his perceived reputation as a statesman as his credibility as a protector of minorities is allegedly under a cloud on the global stage. A senior professor, requesting anonymity, reminded that the virtual visit was happening at a time when not only Muslims, even Sikhs are feeling alienated after the government’s position on farmers’ protest. “What he says would be closely watched globally. He might use the platform to engage with the Muslim world,” he said.

Sir Syed’s example

There are some who are invoking university founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan to remind how he engaged with the British government even when it was against Muslims. “We must try to tell the government that we are followers of Sir Syed and will cooperate with the government but not with any party’s ideology,” said Razaullah Khan, retired professor and former president of AMU Teachers’ Association.

Then there are those who feel that the government might be thinking of projecting VC Tariq Mansoor, who is said to be close to some RSS leaders, as the new face of Muslims.

Ansab Aamir, a student of Engineering faculty, who actively participated in the anti-CAA protests in 2019, said the participation of the Prime Minister in the centenary celebrations needs to be celebrated but the person holding the position was not somebody who could be praised unanimously. “He is the same person against whom a large number of the students of AMU were protesting against last year. He is the same person who is pushing laws that are detrimental to the identity of Muslims. And this institution is the beacon of that very identity.”

Talha Mannan, a student of Education department, said as AMU was a space for debate and discussion, the session should have been opened to students. “The students are concerned about the events that have unfolded in the last six years, especially with regard to the AMU as it faced unprecedented State oppression in December 2019. They would like to pose some questions to the PM because he remained largely silent on last year’s protests against the CAA. There is an atmosphere of insecurity among students and if he doesn’t address that, then who else will?” he said.

A group of teachers has issued a release asking the AMU fraternity to rise above politics to make the centenary celebration a success. Sources in the administration feel that the PM might offer something big for the education of Muslim women. “A proposal regarding establishment of a centre for professional studies for women is pending in the Education Ministry,” said an official.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 1:43:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pm-modis-amu-outreach-sparks-debate-on-campus/article33375624.ece

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