India

AMU takes Satyagrah Route, demand for ouster of VC

Reetu Raj, Beyondheadlines.

ALIGARH: With three roomy tents fitted with coolers and swarmed with feisty protesters and excited onlookers, the Aligarh Muslim University campus bore a striking resemblance to Jantar Mantar on Tuesday.

One of the tents housed the students union leaders and their robust supporters on a relay strike, the other had agitating representatives of the AMU Teachers Association (AMUTA). The two fiery professors, Madiur Rahman Suhaib and Anees Usmani, on an indefinite hunger strike, sat resolutely under the third canopy. However, if the cacophony of voices demanding his and trusted aide, proctor Mujahid Baig’s ouster, troubled him, AMU vice-chancellor Prof PK Abdul Aziz did remarkably well to conceal the fact.

This is the first time AMU is facing such a mass uprising, declared AMUTA secretary Prof Syed Murtaza Zaidi. Aziz, he feels, could be the only VC privileged enough to have continued in office despite charges of gross financial irregularities or inquiries, while anyone else in his place would have been shown the door long ago. Zaidi puts it down to the “quaint mentality and a blinkered approach of politicians who want to keep their hands off the minority institutes”.

Aziz, he said, has closed the university sine die three times in last four years. It proves that he is totally incapable of running it. So why allow him to continue? Apart from the removal of the VC, the 1100-odd teachers, Zaidi said, are pressing for the removal of proctor Baig for bringing the image of AMU into disrepute. The relay hunger strike, that involves a batch of three teachers every day, will continue till the demands are met, he emphasized.

The students union is essentially baying for proctor’s blood whose statement that AMU hostels have turned into arsenals of illegal weaponry had raised a storm on the campus The union is also rooting for the revocation of the suspension of 38 students, allegedly involved in the group clashes last month. This kind of autocratic behaviour on part of university authorities will not be tolerated, students union president Abu Iffan Farukhi told TOI.

Suhaib, a professor of English literature and convener of the AMU anti-corruption forum, who had announced his intent to go Anna Hazare way a fortnight ago, is equally firm on the agenda. “Aziz has ruined AMU’s reputation and needs to be thrown out along with his accomplices — the registrar and finance officer,” he said. The forum, Prof Suhaib said, had already submitted a memorandum to the President of India.

Meanwhile, the VC has condemned Suhaib “for vitiating the campus which was bouncing back to normalcy”. “His forum on the campus is unauthorized and his engagements are illegal and against the code of conduct of teachers,” he said. The “other two dharnas are only aggravating and damaging the interests of students,” he charged on Tuesday and appealed to the detractors to help him restore peace and tranquillity. “This could be his last statement before he is removed from the chair,” Prof Suhaib told TOI.

“Faced with making a choice between a tainted VC and the lives of two professors, is the Central government left with any option,” he asked.

Suhaib, convener of AMU anti-corruption forum, who had announced his intent to go Anna Hazare way a fortnight ago, is firm on the agenda.

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