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Mehmoodur Rehman committee strengthens Muslim claim on Ismail Yusuf land
Wednesday October 23, 2013 10:09 PM, Hena Farhat,

Muslim NGOs, educationalists and activists working for the transfer of Ismail Yusuf College and adjoining land to a Muslim trust on Wednesday expressed confidence that the state government will decide on their demand on priority basis after the recommendation on the issue by Dr. Mehmoodur Rehman committee.

"We are fighting with the government as well as in court for the possession of Ismail Yusuf College and its adjoining land since last fifty years. After the recommendation made by Dr. Mehmoodur Rehman committee we are sure the government would realise the importance of the issue and would take a decision on priority basis", President of Anjuman-e-Islam Dr. Zahir Kazi said while talking to

Dr. Mehmoodur Rehman Committee, which was constituted in 2008 to look into socio-economic and educational status of Muslims in Maharashtra, submitted its report to the state government Monday. Among many other recommendations the committee had made is the handing over of the Ismail Yusuf College and the adjacent land to the Muslims – a demand, the report said, is supported by a huge majority in the state and the country.

The report said, "Muslims from all over Maharashtra, and more overwhelmingly from the rest of the country, have supported the proposal of the transfer of management of Ismail Yusuf College to the Anjuman-e-Islam, which is one of the oldest and effectively managed institutions."

Dr Kazi said Anjuman-e-Islam, one of the oldest institutions of the country with more than 100,000 enrolled students, is already involved in the management and administration of Ismail Yusuf College following a court order. He said if the government owing to popular demand of the community, and now working on the recommendations of a high level committee constituted by the government itself, the college could be effectively used for the empowerment of the Muslims.

He said the college and its land belongs to the Muslims and there is absolutely no dispute on this.

"If a government land can be given to someone to build a memorial, why can't Muslim community's own land handed over to a Muslim trust for educational purpose", he said with a clear reference to transfer of Indu Mill compound to Dalits for Dr. Ambedkar memorial.

If gets the possession of the land, Anjuman-e-Islam plans to convert the existing campus into a university.

"Ismail Yusuf College was the only residential college of the then Bombay state. We not only intend to restore its lost glory, but have a concrete plan to convert the existing campus into a university of international standard", he added.

Aleem Faizee, chairman of Noble Education & Welfare Society (NEWS) also echoed similar views. "The role of the state government vis-à-vis establishment of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) centre in Maharashtra is dubious. Even though more than the double land for the purpose is available in Malegaon, the government is not doing anything on the project. Similarly the government is playing politics with all other issues relating to the Muslim community", he said.

"If the government really values the findings and recommendations of Dr. Mehmoodur Rehman Committee, it should immediately take a decision on the possession of Ismail Yusuf College. It is the least that the government can do for the Maharashtra Muslims", he said.

Director of Mumbai's Markazul Ma'arif M. Burhanuddin Qasmi said that the matter of Ismail Yusuf College is not something which should take such a long time for a solution. He said the community is not demanding any land which belongs to the state or which is privately owned.

"The land belongs to Muslims and the government should immediately hand it over to them. It doesn't require any legislation or any lengthy procedure. What it requires is the commitment. In fact Dr Mehmoodur Rehman Committee has made its job simpler", he said.

Muslim community leaders are demanding since more than four decades possession of Ismail Yusuf College and the adjacent lands which is encroached and handed over to others.

The idea of a college for Muslims was mooted by Sir Mohammad Ismail Yusuf who in January 1910 donated a whopping Rs.0.8mn to then State of Bombay with a condition to establish a college which should be primarily for Muslims though, he said, students belonging to other religious communities could also be given admissions.

The idea began taking shape by March 1924 and the college, one among the four affiliated to University of Mumbai by then, finally started functioning in1930.

Till 1975 the college was the favourite institution for Muslim students especially those from places like Mumbai, Bhiwandi and Malegaon, and also from countries like Afghanistan and Sudan.

However situation began slipping out of control later on. First, due to the government's negligence, encroachers and slum dwellers illegally took whatever size of the land they could in their possession. Later on, a considerable size bisecting the land under the college control was used for the construction of Western Express Highway.

If it was not enough, part of the remaining land was granted by none other than the government itself to a private society to establish what is known today as Arvind Gandbhir High School and also for constructing a housing society. By the time the Muslims realised the losses the community had incurred, the Ismail Yusuf campus which was originally spread over 120 acres of land, shrunk to about 54 acres.

A stunned community knocked the government's doors to get the land clear of encroachments and to bring the campus under the control of a Muslim trust. When repeated requests to the government proved fruitless, lawsuits were also filed in court.

Meanwhile, differences on who should get control of the campus surfaced between Anjuman-e-Islam, a Pune based Muslim Trust and the one led by some ex-students of the college. Due to the infighting between the three groups neither the lawsuit pending in the court saw a final verdict nor did the government care to take any decision to resolve the issue.

However, it has now been transpired that unanimity has emerged between the three groups. The Pune based trust has backtracked from its claim and the group led by the ex-students of the college also doesn't have any objection if the control of the campus is handed over to Anjuman-e-Islam.

The Anjuman along with Sir Mohammed Yusuf Family Trust is already involved following a court settlement in the affairs of the college, though limited only to the admission process. One of the largest Muslim NGOs, the Anjuman also has to its credit a successful record of running the chain of reputed institutions under its control.

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