The Aligarh Muslim University Teachers’ Association (AMUTA) has objected to the proposal given by the Executive Council (EC) of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to allow a “private trust” — ‘Sir Syed Education Foundation’ (SSEF) — to utilise “brand AMU” as well as AMU’s land and funds. AMUTA has vehemently opposed SSEF and levelled allegations against the Vice Chancellor, Lt. Gen. (retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah, for violating the university law for “self interest”.
Repeated attempts were made by this reporter to contact the V-C, but calls and messages went unanswered.
S. Mustafa Zaidi, honorary secretary, AMUTA, said: “Aligarh Muslim University has a long-standing legacy that precedes its existence. When we say ‘brand AMU’ is being exploited, we mean that the reputation that Muslims relate with the AMU is being misused. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan is known to people as the visionary who established AMU with the purpose of introducing modern education among the Muslim community while still preserving cultural values. So, when you tell people that the AMU wants to start a school or a course here or any other activity in the name of AMU, you get unchallenged support.”
The memorandum released by the AMUTA highlights that SSEF is a private trust and cannot be counted as a part of AMU since the Act does not have any provision to allow an independent organisation to exist in the name of the university. Other than this, the Act allows establishment of AMU-affiliated institutions only within 25 km from the university area.
However, AMUTA representatives alleged that in the name of extending the university footprint in the country, three off-campus AMU centres were established in Mallapuram, Kerala; Murshidabad, West Bengal and Kishanganj, Bihar. “Without amendment in the AMU Act, off-campuses cannot be established. Even for running these centres, adequate human resource is required which is absolutely lacking at the three centres. And when these were being established, the argument was given that this will help the Muslim community in the region, but there has been no substantial output either,” Zaidi said.
Targeting the V-C, Zaidi said, “There is a lot of property that AMU receives as Wakf. Transferring AMU’s property to these private trusts is against the AMU Act. Last year, approximately Rs 52 lakh were transferred from AMU to SSEF for functioning.” The SSEF is a private trust registered in Delhi that AMUTA said, “is promoted by a builder along with the present V-C of AMU, as president.” A similar proposal from the same group last year had led to a big agitation on the campus that resulted in the Executive Council rejecting the offer.
The teachers further demand rejection of land lease from 10 years to 30 years within campus areas to another society, when in a previous meeting in 2015, the question of giving Aligarh Muslim University land on a 30-year lease was rejected outright. The AMUTA also appealed to the AMU EC members to ensure that land and buildings that are being donated to Aligarh Muslim University by the Calcutta Unani Medical College should remain with AMU.