While the process of land acquisition
for four other centers of Aligarh Muslim University has set in
motion, in Bihar the whole exercise has got mired in controversy.
And the credit for giving birth to this row goes to none else, but
the chief minister Nitish Kumar. Though the AMU and the Union
government sought 250-300 acres of land in Katihar district the
state government last September gave just 100 acres of land and that
too in Kishangan district.
In Kerala 397 acres have almost been
acquired in Malappuram district while the West Bengal government has
already started the process of transferring 350 acres of Farakka
Barrage land in Murshidabad district to the AMU. A five-member team
led by AMU Vice Chancellor, P K Abdul Azis, has already visited
Malappuram and Murshidabad a few weeks back.
However, in Bihar Muslim leaders see a
deliberate design in the chief minister’s move to give land in
Kishanganj instead of Katihar. The general secretary of the
Nationalist Congress Party, Tariq Anwar, who was instrumental in
getting the centre approved for Katihar, said that the chief
minister was playing politics. Many other leaders feel that this
political drama may delay the establishment of the AMU centre in
Bihar. Some of them fear that this controversy might even lead to
the shelving of the project. As this political drama was going on
the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the students’ wing of the
Bharatiya Janata Party, which incidentally is an alliance partner in
the Nitish Kumar government, took to streets of Kisltariganj
opposing the setting up of AMU centre in the district. They even
burnt the effigy of the chief minister. All these activities raise
strong suspicion in the mind of the common folk in the region.
It needs to be mentioned that the AMU
first sent its proposal to the Bihar government in November 2008.
Its Vice Chancellor P K Abdul Azis wrote a letter to Nitish
requesting him to make available to AMU about 250-300 acres of
contiguous land free of cost with water and power supply.
The content of the letter said: "l
have great pleasure to inform you that Katihar in your state has
been selected for establishing one such centre with a desire to
cater to the needs of the people in that region and adjoining
states. lt was on the eve of the last parliamentary election in
April-May that Nitish disclosed having received a proposal from AMU
and said that he would give land at Kishanganj. However, against the
requirement of a minimum of 250 acres of land, his government gave
only 100 acres.
According to media reports the state
government allotted 100 acres of land in spite of the fact that the
district magistrate of Kishanganj, Firagh Ahmad, had sent papers of
260 acres of acquired land to the state government.
The idea of establishing five campuses
of AMU at Murshidabad in West Bengal, Malappuram in Kerala, Bhopal
ic Madhya Pradesh and Pune in Maharashtra besides Katihar in Bihar
was mooted by a committee headed by the then Union minister of state
for Human Resources Development Mohammad Ali Ashraf Fatmi, which had
recommended that AMU should examine the feasibility of its expansion
to increase access to good quality higher and professional education
beyond its current reach. lt also recommended substantial assistance
by the Union government to such centers. Similar recommendation was
made by the National Committee for Minorities Education in July,
The total cost of five centers would
be Rs 2,000 crore, that is, Rs 400 crore each. The Centre has even
allotted the initial installment of Rs 25 crore for this purpose to
Murshidabad and Malappuram centers.
While Nitish argues that he is giving
land in Kishanganj, instead of P neighbouring Katihar, because the
literacy rate in V this Muslim-dominated district is abysmally low.
The truth is that the literacy rate in Katihar, which also has a
sizeable Muslim population, is not much better. Besides, to improve
the literacy rate the state government should open primary and
middle schools, and ensure the presence of teachers in them.
Instead, the state government, it is alleged, wanted to drive a
wedge among local political stalwarts.
Nitish deliberately tried to create
confusion g before the Lok Sabha election. Congress leader, Maulana
lsrar-uI- Haque, was contesting on Congress ticket while
Taslimuddin was the Rashtirya Janata Dal’s candidate from Kishanganj.
The Janata Dal (United) nominee was nowhere in contest. Similarly,
Tariq Anwar was fighting on the NCP ticket from neighbouring Katihar
seat, which he had represented four times in the past. The purpose
was to sow the seed of discontent among these leaders. And it so
One of the RJD leaders, the party’s
MLA from l Kishanganj, Akhtar-ul-lman, without applying his mind,
welcomed the chief minister’s announcement · of giving land made
earlier this year in his home town. lt was much later that he
realized that the issue is not Katihar or Kishanganj but a ploy to
pitch different Muslim leaders against each other.
At present Kishangan is represented by
Maulana lsrar-ul-Haque in Parliament. Taslimuddin, who has lost, is
being wooed by Nitish to his side and he is using the land for AMU
centre to win over the support of the Muslims of the district.
Whether a centre is established in
Katihar or Kishanganj is not the issue as students – this includes
thousands of girls too - from these districts travel as far as
Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Surat and Aligarh to pursue higher
education. There is no problem for young college students of
Kishangani to travel 50-60 kms to reach Katihar.
Katihar was chosen because it has
better infra- structure. True both Kishanganj and Katihar are
situated on the National Highway yet the latter has the divisional
headquarters of railways and all important trains, including
Rajdhani, stop here.
Muslim leaders are of the view that by
whipping up this totally unnecessary political controversy the chief
minister has only tarnished his own image among the community. Like
the Nalanda International University (the brainchild of former
President A P J Abdul Kalam), the IIT-Patna, and a Central
University for Bihar - there are 17 such universities to be opened
all over lndia - the campus of the AMU is a central government
project and the state has nothing to do anything, except provide
land. Yet Nitish wants to project himself in such a way as if he is
opening the AMU - or all the above mentioned institutes - in Bihar.
This is boomeranging on him, yet he is not realizing.
(The Milli Gazette)