The culture of the controversy is not new to the Aligarh Muslim University. While the University is in the storm of fascist politics seeping deep in the Indian political psyche, the political culture at university also shares a fair share in snowballing the issues that ultimately earns it a bad name.
Women’s College Students Union (WUSU) did a commendable job by organizing a programme which is otherwise alien to a setting like AMU. The women across the ideological spectrum were invited to attend three days Women Leadership Summit. One of the unique initiative in the student politics of AMU, which is otherwise marred by petty discourses of dinning Daal.
The event, unfortunately, was caught in the eye of the storm when some of the students objected the programme on various reasons.
The events that have unfolded in the AMU can’t be seen in the perfect binary. There are a lot of grey areas that need attention. The controversy has multiple layers with various vested interests trying to play their politics at the cost of Islam.
Here is the complete breakup of the events:
All is not well with AMUSU. As Women’s College Students’ Union had invited only the President of AMUSU to speak at the Summit, it did not go well with Vice President. The urge to share a seat at the Summit and the denial of the opportunity by the organizers pained the VP, and hence his reaction.
WCSU had internal disagreements on conducting the programs off the women’s college campus. Some of them argued that the program was being shifted to Kennedy only at the cost of girls’ attendance. They believed that this summit should remain within Women’s college so that the highest benefit is received by the college girls. Denied the space, they were unhappy at the management of affairs.
The list of guests did not go well with some students who found Ms Arfa Khanum as speaker. They found a loophole in her tweets and wanted her to seek an apology. It got support from fringe religious activists who always think that Islam is in danger and needs saving. It was supported by former Netas and regional lobbyists primarily from a district in UP West and the other from UP East. Some non-students wrote detailed posts on Facebook challenging and threatening, though they have no business with the university. Some graduation students rebuked WCSU for not inviting Hadiya but they got trolled when it was told that Hadiya preferred skipping the event for security reasons.
It was some so-called Left minded teachers who further turned the mud around. They tried to patronize the WCSU. In response, the typical Alig teachers aroused with community feelings, which in reality don’t exist. They used their ‘patronized students’ to break the tents and fight the girls.
The administration was interested in stopping the whole event from the very beginning. They feared that the guest speakers may make some controversial statements. Even the Principal of Women’s College asked the invited speakers to avoid talking about Kashmir. Administration, as always preferred spying and threatening.
The situation was further escalated by a lobby of Women College Professors who were against the programme for personal interests. They provoked “mathadeeshes” on the main campus to act against the programme.
During the intermittent time on the day first of the programme, one of the invited guests, Nadeem Asrar made some objectionable statements that were questioning the very identity of Muslims. This further aggravated the situation.
In this whole episode of satisfying the egos between the rival parties – Islam was used to give legitimacy in the wider audience by one faction and other used it again as their favourite punching bag in national media.
It’s true that the issue of Islam is pretty sensitive on the campus. In the fascist times when the whole identity of Muslims is at stake in India and so-called secular parties who systemically marginalized this community by pushing them to the wall for decades, the otherization has created a sense of alienation in the minority community who is now not willing for an intellectual engagement across the ideological spectrum.
These sensitivities have a history at the campus from the heydays of dictatorial communists for almost three decades in the 1950s who even made fun of quietest nimazi/ tableegis for offering his/her prayer.
It’s this bitter experience buttressed on the fossilized saffronization of India that has made this minority community suspicious of any intellectual engagements which should otherwise be hailed, celebrated and encouraged in university spaces.
Tail Piece: Islam, in reality, is of little concern to many. From Barren Mosques at Fajr time to Corruption in practice, it is evident that Islam was used for the namesake. It must be enforced that cheap politics should not be done in the name of community and religion. It is too scary. Make a census, you will find that more than 90 per cent of the students has never studied the meaning of the Quran. More than 70% do not recite the Quran in a month. On average, more than 90% of students have not read any standard Volume on Islam.