MAY 2, 2011: The first two news items that I read on the internet early in the morning (May 1, 2011) were the attack on Andhra Pradesh legislator and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leader Akbaruddin Owaisi and the sine die closure of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). From the impressive performance in the parliament of Akbaruddin's elder brother Asadduddin Owaisi and from the fact that Akbaruddin has been elected by his constituents three times, perhaps it will not be unjustified to assume that like his elder brother, Akbaruddin is a dynamic young leader as well.
This description of him in a PTI report gives strength to this belief. “The three-time MLA does not have a police gunman for escort and most of the time drives the vehicle on his own,” it read. “Land dispute was said to be the reason for the attack on Akbaruddin, who had been preventing land-grabbers from encroaching on valuable government land mostly in the old city area.”
Like Muslims elsewhere in the country or perhaps all over the world, jealousy, narrow-mindedness and selfishness appears to be at work behind the attack on Akbaruddin. And how low Muslim leaders can go in their intolerance and opposition to others was recently evident in Babu Khan’s immediate press release advising the Muslims to forgo their claim on Babri Mosque because prior to this MIM had announced to support Muslim Personal Law Board in its legal fight against Babri Mosque ruling.
What makes the attack on Akbaruddin and AMU’s closure more painful is the shameful selfishness and internal rivalry of Muslims. While the attackers of Akbaruddin are reportedly Muslims, and the clash between two groups of students, all Muslims, has led to the closure of AMU.
As for AMU, never has it seen an inapt, uncharismatic, controversial and tainted Vice Chancellor as Prof Aziz. No other Vice Chancellor has entered AMU with the allegations of plagiarism haunting him from previous jobs nor has any previous Vice Chancellor has ever been accused of financial irregularities and similarly no Vice Chancellor in the past has been as ignorant of AMU culture and its traditions as Prof Aziz. It is too late now but a natural question comes to mind why the court members, the so called akaabireen, fail to vet and screen the past record of the person they were going to recommend to head the institution? Let it be said that by selecting such a man with such a record they have betrayed the community and shown disgraceful inefficiency.
Never has the university ever been closed like this on the presumption that the situation might get worse. Usually it is the Students’ Union versus administration and resorting to violence of students that forces the administration in any educational institution to take such extreme steps. In this case, however, the students union, as is obvious from the e-mail circulated by its President, Abu Affan Farooquee , was opposed to closure and had assured the District and University administrations of full cooperation in taking stern action against the culprits. What is it then that made Prof Aziz to close the institution? Conspiracy? Hidden hands? Yes definitely. But the conspirators are not the ones our community is so fond of accusing.
They belong to our community itself and the hidden hands behind it are ours not of outsiders.
May Akbaruddin make complete recovery and may the students and staff in AMU with the wisdom, vision and sense of belonging to recognize the Milli heritage that they are bent upon destroying! Let us stop trying to find conspiracies being hatched from outside. No one can conspire against us if our own house is in order. Let us not forget the fact that Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq were neither non-Indians nor non-Muslims. And those who are trying to walk on their footsteps should not forget their legacy in this world let alone the justice that will be delivered on the Day of Judgment.
(Guest columnist Khan is a London-based senior journalist.)