Aligarh fumes over status axe - Varsity to appeal against minority ruling, RAF called in after clash

Read more below

  • Published 5.10.05

Lucknow, Oct. 5: The Rapid Action Force was deployed in and around Aligarh Muslim University to prevent violence following Allahabad High Court’s order yesterday quashing its minority status.

Protests against the verdict and demonstrations in its favour by rival groups of students rocked the campus today, as the university authorities said they would appeal in the apex court.

Aloke Sinha, principal secretary, home, said: “The move (to deploy RAF) is a preventive action intended to maintain peace on the campus.”

The high court yesterday quashed the Aligarh Muslim University Amendment Act, 1981 ? which gave the institution its minority status ? as unconstitutional and struck down reservation of seats for Muslims in the postgraduate medical courses.

The Union human resource development ministry had in February issued a notification allowing 50 per cent reservation.

The ruling came on a writ petition challenging the February notification.

The Samajwadi Party blamed the court order on the Congress, saying it had come only because HRD minister Arjun Singh had issued the notification to woo minority votes. Arjun’s move was seen by the party as an attempt to eclipse its campaign for an Urdu University in Rampur.

“I have sympathies for the Muslim students demanding minority status and I ask them to hit the streets, this time against the Congress,” said Azam Khan, the party’s Muslim face and a senior minister in the Mulayam Singh Yadav government.

The Congress hit back saying the Samajwadis were trying to incite trouble on the campus. The party would wait for the apex court order, Uttar Pradesh unit president Salman Khursheed said.

Vice-chancellor Nasim Ahmed has said he will appeal. “We are waiting for a copy of the court order. We will move the Supreme Court at the earliest.”

Quashing the 1981 amendment act, the court said it had attempted to overrule a Supreme Court order of 1968, which said the Aligarh university was not a minority institution.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College ? the forerunner of the AMU ? was founded for the academic and cultural advancement of Indian Muslims. It was turned into a university later through a central legislation.

In its 1968 order, the apex court had said a university set up through a central legislation could not be granted minority status. When Jamia Millia Islamia was founded, the central legislation had specified that it would enjoy minority status.

The apex court verdict sparked a students’ agitation that lasted about half a decade before the Congress promised to step in. In 1981, when Indira Gandhi was in power, the Aligarh Muslim University Act was amended. The amendment pointed out that Syed Khan was the founder and conferred minority status on the institution.

Disagreeing with yesterday’s ruling, Zafaryab Jilani of the All India Aligarh Muslim University Action Committee said the order violated in spirit the rights of minorities guaranteed by the Constitution.