BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter
New Delhi: A group of academicians, political leaders, journalists, activists and students have come together to press the Bihar Government and the administration of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, for immediate inception of the AMU centre in Bihar.
They have come under the banner of ‘AMU Centre Co-ordination Committee Kishanganj’ to press the Bihar Government to immediately allocate the required land. The committee is going to hold a conference entitled ‘Mission Conference’ on September 30 at India Islamic Culture Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi.
AMU VC PK Abdul Aziz, Janata Dal United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Party supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, Lok Jan Shakti Party chief Ramvilas Paswan, Kishanganj MP Asrarul Haque and others are expected to address the conference, a press statement issued by the committee said.
Kishanganj was identified as one of the fifth centre for the AMU off-campus centre after the Sachchar Committee recommended setting up of more institutions focused on the educational needs of Muslims in the minority dominated areas.
In 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed a committee headed by Delhi High Court Former Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar to prepare a report on the latest social, economic and educational condition of the Muslim community in India, which presented its 403-page report in the Lok Sabha (lower house of Indian Parliament) on November 30, 2006.
In the report, the committee identified following areas of major concerns — the status of Indian Muslims are worst than the conditions of scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) and the over percentage of Muslims in bureaucracy in India is just 2.5%; whereas, Muslims constitute above 14% of the Indian population.
Based on the recommendations of the committee, the then Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh asked the AMU vice chancellor (VC) to open off-campus centres in the Muslim dominated districts of the country.
In late 2008 and early 2009, incumbent AMU VC Prof P. K. Abdul Aziz had announced the proposal of 5 off-campus centres at Katihar (Bihar), Mallapuram (Kerala), Murshidabad (West Bengal), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) and Pune (Maharashtra).
Along with four other states, the AMU VC sent the proposal letter to the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar Government and asked for 250 acres contiguous piece of land to set a massive campus where professional and regular courses can be offered in addition to the school education.
On September 22, 2009, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced that he is giving 100 acres of land free of cost at Kishanganj instead of Katihar. Interestingly, the announcement was made just two days after his party dismal performance in assembly by-elections, in which it won only 4 out of 18 seats.
Political meddling and bureaucratic hurdles have delayed the process and even land has not yet been handed over to the AMU administration. It must be noted here that AMU centres in Murshidabad (West Bengal) and Mamallapuram (Kerala) have already started.
Just after the announcement made by the Bihar Government, AMU VC clarified that 250 acres of land is necessary and 100 acres in not enough.
On February 4, 2010, a delegation led by AMU VC featuring Prof Ekram Hussain, Prof N.A.K Durrani, Prof M. Saud Alam Qasmi and Prof Javed Akhter met Kumar in Patna and given a power point presentation explaining about the concept of the centre and its significance.
The same day, Nitish Kumar directed the state officials to place the issue of allotment of 250 acres of land for the proposed AMU campus in Kishanganj in the next meeting of the state cabinet, which was to be held on February 7 and 19, 2010. The proposal was unanimously passed in the meeting.
The state government directed the then Kishanganj District Magistrate Feraque Ahmad to identify required land in the district. Feraque identified 243 acres of land at Chakla Village near Kishanganj in 3 pieces, which was not accepted by the AMU VC after his visit to the proposed site on May 22, 2010.
The decision of the AMU VC was a big shock for the people of the area and the state who were hoping for a contemporary central university in the deprived state of Bihar.
On June 25, 2010, the AMU VC met with the people of Kishanganj at New Horizon Public School in New Delhi and shared his view about the land. And also pointed out the illegal encroachment done by the tribals on the proposed site that might cause problem in the future. The proposed land was in 3 pieces, which was not ideal to run a huge university.
DM Feraque Ahmad, on the suggestion of AMU VC, prepared a new proposal with two pieces of land and was supposed to meet AMU VC on July 2, 2010. However, former Rashatriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Taslimuddin announced to join Nitish’s party JD (U) at a mass rally on July 4, 2010. And Feraque Ahmad was transferred the same day. As a result, the hope of AMU Centre in Kishanganj once again suffered a severe set back.
The departure of Ahmad from Kishanganj was followed by assembly elections in the state, and the issue of AMU centre became a hot topic for politicians contesting elections. All were claiming to clear the deadlock and establish the AMU centre in Kishanganj. However, nothing happened, and the issue is still dwindling among controversial statements.
After a long gap, in May this year, Union HRD Minister asked the university to select a suitable site among those offered by the Bihar Government and take a decision and submit a feasibility report soon. Following this, the AMU VC again sent the proposal to the incumbent district magistrate of Kishanganj and asked to provide the required land.
The district magistrate identified 3 new pieces of land at Dhanpura, Tarabari and Dighalbank, but all are public property and the state government will have to purchase the land.
Meanwhile, Afzal Hussain, a businessman from Pothia block of Kishanganj, announced that he would donate the required 250 acres land to AMU near Islampur, West Bengal. Once again, on July 11, the AMU VC visited Kishanganj with his team and after inspecting the 3 new sites, he visited the land offered by Afzal Hussain.
The AMU team and the district magistrate, Kishanganj, found the land offered by Afzal suitable for the proposed campus. On July 31, 2011, the AMU VC called an open session at New Horizon Public School and shared the latest status about the Kishanganj centre. He had told that within two months, the land transfer issue will be resolved.
On September 5, 2011, the VC again met with the members of Movement for Immediate AMU Centre in Bihar Group and shared his latest update. He said that “this is my heartiest wish to establish a centre of AMU in Kishanganj. You people ask Afzal Sahab to officially transfer the land to the district magistrate of Kishanganj.”