Match Fixing in AMU Convocation

Ehtasham Khan for BeyondHeadlines

It was the 60th Convocation of Aligarh Muslim University with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi as the Chief Guest. The hero, however, of the event was legendary Hockey player Zafar Iqbal. He was honored with the degree of D. Lit (honoris causa). The match was fixed. Albeit, not by Iqbal, but the organizers of the much-hyped affair which had attracted the entire national media in the sleepy town of Aligarh.

It was quite evident that the issue of minority character will be raised. So all the ace players had done their homework well in advance. It came out from none other than the Vice Chancellor himself. In his speech, Mr. Zameeruddin Shah said: “We need the support of Mrs Sonia Gandhi for the restoration of minority character of AMU.”

Sonia, who could not attend the function due to poor weather condition, read out from a written speech via telephone from New Delhi. She said: “We will do everything possible to support the minority character of AMU.”

Match Fixing in AMU Convocation

Both read out from a prepared speech. Both the sentences of the two major players in the prepared text match well. So there is a strong chance of match fixing – You say this and I will say this.

But why would anybody object to this quid pro quo? There are three reasons.

Firstly, AMU should not become a platform for someone’s political agenda. You cannot fool the community all the time. The Congress party has used only rhetoric and little substance in the last ten years. Sonia Gandhi should resist from saying things which she cannot deliver.

Secondly, this will spoil the strong case of the minority character of AMU. We all know that the issue is now with the Supreme Court of India. Government has already expressed its opinion in favour of the minority character. Only the apex court will now decide the future of AMU. Government’s role will come only after AMU loses its legal battle in the court. So requesting the political leadership at this stage is an expression that AMU has accepted losing the case in Supreme Court. Or, in other words, AMU has no faith in judiciary. Or, is the Vice Chancellor trying to suggest that Sonia Gandhi can influence the Supreme Court.

Moreover, it is beyond imagination that the Vice Chancellor will make such a public statement. The university is a party to this case in the Supreme Court. Vice Chancellor being the supreme authority of the institution cannot make a public statement of this nature as it suggests interference with the judicial process. It amounts to no less than contempt of court. The Vice Chancellor can be taken to court on such statements. It will also give an opportunity to the rival party to corner AMU in the apex court. My experience in the Supreme Court tells me that the courts take such out-of-court statements on pending matters very seriously.

Politicians can afford to make such statements. However, even Sonia Gandhi gave a very carefully worded statement. She first said that the matter is in the Supreme Court. Then adds on to say, “We will do everything possible to support the minority character of AMU.”

Thirdly, rightwing parties may use such statements to give a communal colour to this issue. AMU is an easy target for such hate politics.

I have repeatedly said this on several occasions that instead of making a hue and cry, the university should engage a good lawyer in the Supreme Court and seek early hearing of the case which has not come up on board for more than two years. But is anyone listening?

Coming back to the convocation. If one anlayses the text of the speech of the vice chancellor, there is a zig-zag pattern in it.  Mr Shah started his speech by raising the problem of minority character of AMU. Abruptly, he moves on to welcome Mr Zafar Iqbal. He suddenly speaks of infrastructure in AMU. He again changes his track to seek Sonia Gandhi’s support for the minority character. And then ends by saying he is trying to reach out to western UP and rest of India.

There was no common thread to weave his speech. One can understand an army man is not familiar with the world of academics. But who are the advisors?

Leaving aside the faux pas of the Vice Chancellor, I was delighted to go to AMU after long long years. Mr Zafar Iqbal’s extempore speech was very encouraging. He spoke from his heart. The crowd cheered for him making all of us envy. Not every alumnus gets such an honour from his own university.

I also salute the discipline of the students who maintained high decorum despite the shifting of the venue in the last minute, difficulty faced in getting inside the auditorium and delay of nearly half a day in starting the scheduled program. I admire the way female and male students were sitting together in the main hall of the Kennedy Auditorium. There was not even a single vulgar comment or indiscipline. AMU has finally arrived with lot of maturity. Female students have become more confident in their attitude. Keep it up.

I congratulate the Students Union for presenting a charter of demands to Sonia Gandhi. Apart of the demand for the improvement of infrastructure in the campus, the Union has raised two important issues – rehabilitation of Muslim youth who have been falsely implicated in terror charges and giving SC status to Dalit Muslims.

And the final delight was the tarana. I want to sing just one sentence now – Khud aankh se hum ne dekhi hai, batil ki shikast-e-faash yahan.

Most Popular

To Top