India

Sonia Gandhi and AMU Students’ Union

Ehtasham Khan for BeyondHeadlines

Coming Saturday, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi  would be addressing the students of AMU but she will be looking at India’s largest minority group who played an important role in bringing back the UPA to power in 2009. The target now is 2014. Of course, her words will be sweetened with the “secularism” Congress has been practising to keep the “communal forces” at bay. We saw the hanging of Afzal Guru to hijack the right wing agenda of Narendera Modi. Her speech will also be supported by the data of minority development which the government has been advertising aggressively.

The visit of Ms Gandhi to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) could not have come at a better time than this. This would be a historic opportunity for both – Ms Gandhi and also the Students’ Union of AMU.

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Here comes the role and responsibility of AMU Students’ Union. If AMU claims to be a representative of Muslims in India, and the leaders of AMU Students’ Union aspire to lead the community in future, then there is a need to do some plain speak. If AMU Students Union fails to reflect upon the frustration and anxiety prevalent among Muslims in India then they will lose a historic opportunity to claim the leadership of the community.

There are some hard facts that need to be raised with UPA chairperson in public.

1.       Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill. When will this Bill see the light of the day? What are the provisions that the government wants to put into this Bill to ensure safety of minorities in India? How long will events like Dhule and Gopalgarh riots take place? How long will the Congress govt support the perpetrators of violence as it happened in the above two places?

2.      When will the Congress party and the government apologise the innocent Muslim youth who have been implicated falsely in various terror related charges? Will the government ensure their rehabilitation after spoiling their precious years of life?

3.       Why did the government reject the provision of Verma Committee recommendation which wanted rape and other sexual abuse committed by Army be tried in ordinary court? How long will the government use rape as a weapon to silence people in Kashmir, North-East, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh?

4.       When will the government remove AFSPA?

5.       Will the government stop giving minority affairs ministry to corrupt and inefficient people to ensure its ineffectiveness?

6.       Will the Congress party apologise Muslims for pushing them to backwardness in the last ten years? All the minority development schemes have been farce and the Sachchar Committee recommendations remain only on paper.

7.       Why is the govt sitting on the Equal Opportunity Commission?

8.       When will the government clarify its stand in the Supreme Court to give reservation to Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians? The apex court has been waiting govt response for the last 10 years.

There has been a culture of sycophancy in AMU. I believe the time has come to break this adulation and question the powers-that-be. Unless we ask questions and seek answers, we will be taken for granted.  I hope AMU Students’ Union will stand up to the expectations.

AMU Students’ Union may also raise the issue of minority character of AMU. But the matter is in Supreme Court and there is no point emphasizing this with the government. The decision has to be taken by the court and govt as of now has little role to play. Also, the problem of funding can be raised at a smaller platform. This is a historic opportunity to raise the concerns of Indian Muslims as the national media will keenly follow this event.

A caution to the AMU administration. Last time during the visit of Rahul Gandhi, some selected students were allowed to attend the function and questions were tutored to them. It gave a very catchy headline in which Rahul Gandhi said he wants to see a Muslim Prime Minister in India. We all know Muslims have been fooled by such rhetoric in the last 60 years. AMU administration should not become Public Relation agent of the Congress party or the government.

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