Some Aligarh Muslim University professors and Aligarh-based Muslim activists are busy promoting the policies of the Narendra Modi government, at a time when the AMU campus debates, what it claims to be the “hostile” attitude of the Central government towards it. Recently, the government refused to support the AMU demand for minority status in court, saying there was no place for a state-funded minority institution in a secular country.
Working from the platforms of Millat Bedari Muhim Committee and Forum for Muslim Studies and Analysis, these activists are trying to build a bridge of understanding between the Modi government and the Muslim community.
Jasim Mohammed, an ex-AMU student, is the main force behind these two groups that keep organising some lecture or seminar to educate the people about the functioning of the government. Jasim is also the director of Jamia Urdu, a distance education institute to promote the Urdu language.
“To be honest, until 2014, we used to work for the Congress, as we thought it was the only party which is truly secular and may deliver (the goods) for Muslims. But when even after the Sachar Committee recommendations, they failed to implement any scheme to benefit the Muslim community during their 10-year-rule, the reality dawned on us. Then in 2014, we happened to meet Zafar Sareshwala, who is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He convinced us that PM Modi is genuinely serious about the all-inclusive development of India, including that of Muslims and that Muslims should communicate with the Central government for that. We agreed, despite the sharp backlash we faced in Aligarh. We are now educating the people about the beneficial schemes launched by this government,” added Jasim.
He said that around 30 active AMU teachers are working with him. “Teachers like Professor Razaullah Khan, Dr Mohammad Shahid, Professor Humayun Murad, etc., are working with us. We organise seminars on various governance issues, travel to rural areas, distribute prizes to achievers in various fields, distribute scholarships and publish books and magazines,” added Jasim. Jasim’s group also suggested inviting PM Modi in AMU’s upcoming convocation ceremony and “the university administration is said to have accepted this suggestion”. Though it is also noteworthy here that last year, Jasim was not allowed to hold an event—with Zafar Sareshwala as the chief guest—on the university campus by protesting teachers and students. In addition, many people in Aligarh allege that Jasim and his associates are opportunists and deal in shady activities. Jasim shrugs off these allegations. “Even the founder of AMU, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, had to face vilification.”