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Aliah University no longer under Minority Affairs department, Muslims fear this will impact minority enrollment

By Mirza Mosaraf Hossain, TwoCircles.net

The West Bengal government’s decision to transfer the control of state-owned minority institution Aliah University from Minority Affairs and Madrassa Education Department (MA&ME) to Higher Education Department has not gone down well with the community.

Muslims claim that the decision will have far-reaching consequences and the community will slowly witness poor representation in admission in Aliah University.

It is referred that the order has been issued in wake of large-scale protest by students in the campus which has brought academic activities to a stand still.

The Mamata Banerjee government on 8 September issued a circular. The circular justifies its decision stating that the government “desires overall improvement and uplift in the functioning of the said university in academic as well as administrative matters” under Higher Education Department and therefore taking it from the Department of Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education.

Muslims in West Bengal comprises 27% of the total population. Minorities are provided 17% reservation for recruitment and enrolment at educational institutions.

The Survey report conducted by All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), prepared by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MoHRD), in its sixth presentation published on 10 July, 2017, it is stated that only 3% Muslim students were enrolled in leading higher educational institutes like Presidency University or Jadavpur University.

The same Survey also mentions that more than 98% Muslim students get admission at Aliah University. This is only possible because Aliah University is a minority-run university under MA&ME Department of Bengal.

The apprehension among the community is that now Muslims may not be able to get admission in Aliah University.

However, the acting Vice Chancellor of Aliah University Dr. Naushad Ali, rubbishes any such apprehension. “The Secretaries of the two departments will be discussing the administrative and academic activities. while University will be running by its own way as it has been doing for the last few years”, he said.

WB’s Minister of State for Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education, Giasuddin Molla, terms the step as a good initiative for the excellence of the university. “The decision over the transfer seems to be a good one as it will help the university flourish in its every aspect as it will be guided by excellent veteran officials of the Higher Education Department,” he said.

Molla also remarked that the university would not have faced such a situation if students did not commit any hooliganism in name of students’ protest in the campuses.

Muslims are however sceptical about the decision. They fear that outcome will be on lines of Maulana Azad College and Lady Brabourne College, which were established for the Muslim community but now Muslim students hardly get admissions in these institutes.

Dr. Amzed Hossein,Head, Department of English, Aliah University, doubts the role of Higher Education Department officials whether they will have the same intensity of community sentiments for Aliah as shown by the Minority officials.

Head of the Department of Theology, Dr. Maseehur Rahaman said, “Our Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is doing an excellent job for minorities. But if the Aliah issue really concerns the government, the government could appoint a full-time minority minister, instead of state minister, so that he can overlook the overall minority issues as the chief minister is flooded with many tasks.” He added that funds from minority department are taken for many non-minority institutions run by non-minorities in Bengal and the situation will be the same if the order is implemented.

Syed Ruhul Amin, the All India President of All India Minority Association (AIMA), West Bengal, opines that if the order comes true, it will be a great loss for the whole Muslim community. District president of AIMA in East Medinipur, Sanaullah Khan claimed if the government executes the order, a massive protest march would be arranged.

Md. Yahiya, the Chairman of Bengal Imams’ Association, alleged that the protesting students were responsible, saying “some unscrupulous students, who for their vested interests and cheap politics caused this crisis. The government could have investigated the whole matter before stepping to take such decision.”

The outgoing VC of Aliah University, Prof. Abu Taleb Khan, claims, “There was no attempt taken to solve university issues by the state government or Higher Education Department. In 2008 when Aliah University was running in rented houses but now they are more concerned with Aliah University as it has now three glorious campuses, three hostels in the heart of Kolkata”.

WB’s Minister of Mass Education Extension and Library Services Department who also holds the portfolio of Parliamentary Affairs, Siddiquallah Chowdhury, blamed the protesting students and some selfish Professors for university crisis. “The hooliganism of some of the students jeopardized the present ruckus for some petty issues”, he said. He also claimed that Principal Secretary of Higher Education Department will form guidelines for the university once the Search Committee, ordered by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee completes its investigation over the issue and the university will be again under MA & ME Department.”