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Muslim NGO plans 'forcible possession' of Mumbai's Ismail Yusuf College
65-year long battle for right to Muslim endowment land finally hits streets, decision taken after BJP-led state government allotted Muslim Wakf land to National Law University
Saturday February 14, 2015 8:12 PM, Staff Reporter

Taking to the streets the 65-year long battle for the right to own the Ismail Yusuf College and adjoining land in Mumbai's Jogeshwari area, a local NGO Saturday decided to 'forcibly' acquire the wakf property purchased by an endowment fund meant for the educational empowerment of Muslims.

Ismail Yusuf College

The decision has been taken after the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance government in Maharashtra allotted a two-storey building in the premises to house National Law University. The university is Maharashtra first law university.

"We have decided to forcibly acquire the land and declare it an undisputed Muslim property after we realised that talking to the BJP-Shiv-Sena alliance government on the issue will not serve any purpose", Yusuf Abrahani, president of SEWA and ex-Congress MLA, said while talking to

He said that feelers were sent to the chief minister and other ministers apprising them of the resentment among the Muslim community ever since the government's decision to hand-over the building to the law university was made public. The government, however, failed to respond signalling that it was in no mood to change its controversial decision.

Though the actual date when the NGO will enter the Ismail Yusuf College premises for its planned 'forcible possession' will be announced Monday, the idea has already started receiving support from different sections.

"We have received support from various Muslim, Hindu and Dalit NGOs, activists and organisations who believe that the Muslims have legitimate right on the land and it cannot be handed over to anyone without their consent", Abrahani said.

Elaborating further on the proposed plan, Abrahani said that the NGO members, along with like minded people and organisations, will enter the Ismail Yusuf College building on a date which will be declared on Monday, and declare it a Muslim property.

"It will be totally peaceful and symbolic. Our purpose is to make clear to the government that we will not remain mute spectators if it continues imposing unilateral and autocratic decisions", he said.

The idea of a college for Muslims was mooted by philanthropist Sir Mohammad Ismail Yusuf who in January 1910 donated Rs. 8 lakh 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.

Later on, a considerable size bisecting the land under the college control was used for the construction of Western Express Highway, and a hostel on the same campus was converted into an office for the education department of the state. In 1999, a few ex-students approached Bombay high court after the state government had started giving the college land to third parties.

Muslims are demanding possession of this land since independence. Their demands became stronger when the state government, after violent protests by Dalits, announced to use Indu Mill compound to build a memorial for Dr. Ambedkar.

Dr. Mehmoodur Rehman Committee, constituted in 2008 by the Congress-NCP alliance government to look into socio-economic and educational status of Muslims in Maharashtra, had also supported the demand in its report.

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