AMU minority quota battle 'will continue'

DUBAI - The fight to ensure 50 per cent admissions for Muslims in Aligarh Muslim University, India, has been on two fronts - legal and political.

By Ehtesham Shahid

Published: Wed 8 Jun 2005, 10:46 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:57 PM

While legal luminaries battled in the courts, a key player on the political front was Wasim Ahmad, former member of Indian Parliament, Member of Congress Working Committee and Special Invitee, All India Congress Committee. Ahmad was the General Secretary of AMU Students' Union from 1976-77 and has also been a member of the AMU Court.

Ahmad, who is on a private visit to Dubai, maintains that federal Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh's nod to the 50 per cent quota for Muslims is a major achievement.

He said though the fight for retaining the minority character of AMU is not new, the biggest challenge was to undo the damage done during the previous regime.

Former HRD minister, Murali Manohar Joshi, had proposed a combined admission test (CAT) for all central universities to be conducted by a central agency.

According to Ahmad, this would have seriously hurt the interests of the community. But it was not the party in power alone that held such a view. Ahmad says that some Left leaders too held similar views. "We went door-to-door, giving our viewpoint on the issue," he adds.

AMU has its origin in the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, Aligarh. The university came into being through AMU Act of 1920. It was formed for the uplift of the Muslim community but displayed a strong secular fabric as well.

Ahmad says that the letter written by Arjun Singh to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and other allies on May 28, should be the final word.

In the letter, Arjun Singh wrote: "Since the University is for the educational and cultural advancement of Muslims in India, the government treats AMU as a religious minority institution and that the ministry has no objection to the University's decision on reservation of seats."

Ahmad, however, says that despite this victory, the well-wishers of the University must be prepared to tackle such disputes in the future.

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