Dr Tariq Mansoor
Aligarh Muslim University
I am a London based journalist and an old student of AMU. (I joined AMU as a PUC student, 1974, completed LL.B. Hons, 1982, and Dip Journalism 1983).
I am writing this letter to express my deep concern and anguish at the arrests and uncalled for detentions of AMU students, especially a bright student Sharjeel Usmani, who had taken part in anti-CAA protests in December and January 2020, and AMU administration’s disappointing handling of this crisis.
I am shocked to learn that AMU administration has refused to recognise that Sharjeel is a student of AMU.
I have been watching with immense pain and great dismay your administration’s heavy-handedness in dealing with the students who were using their democratic and constitutional right to protest against the most absurd and shameful piece of legislation in Indian legal history.
AMU has a long history of playing a leading role in milli activities. But now there seems to be a deliberate attempt on the part of BJP government to crush and destroy this rich culture and tradition and, sadly, AMU administration appears to be obediently and timidly caving in to the illegal pressure of the government and accepting its unconstitutional demands.
Sir, as someone born and brought up in Aligarh—a city the contributions and sacrifices of whose residents in the establishment of AMU and in protecting its unique character have no match—who would know better than you what this institution means to the Muslims of India? Not only that you are an alumnus of this great university but you have also served it with great dedication as a teacher and as a doctor and have earned a good name for your services. Surely it was because of your good reputation and your good name that the choice of the millat fell upon you and it chose you to run the affairs of AMU as its Vice Chancellor. With this background, I hardly need to remind you of community’s expectations of you.
I am sure you remember very well how, in the 70s, peaceful and legal protests by Muslims, demanding the restoration of the minority character of AMU were turned into savage anti-Muslim riots in Aligarh, Firozabad, Banaras and other cities. Surely you would also remember how, over the years, the Muslim community has sacrificed thousands of lives to provide the free, open and unique atmosphere in which you, I, and thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims have studied and benefited from.
I am sure you will agree that the present and future generations also deserve the same openness and same freedom of speech and expression that we had enjoyed in our student days.
Sir, governments come and go and so do the vice-chancellors. But history remembers only those who stand to the test and challenge of the time. A community remembers its leaders and leading figures in reverence or with utter disdain depending on how they had acted and behaved in difficult situations.
I have no doubt that your love for our alma mater is as deep and as strong as can be expected of a son and a daughter of chaman-e-Sir Syed and, like millions of Indian Muslims and AMU alumni spread all over the world, I appreciate and understand the immense pressures you must be facing from a shamelessly anti-Muslim government. But, with this, I also believe that as a Muslim you are fully aware of our answerability in the Final Court of Allah SWT on the day when our high positions in this world will be of no use and what will matter are our deeds.
Sir, I end this submission with a request for justice to Sharjeel and your support for him and others like him against the shameful, undemocratic and illegal pressure and harassment from the government and its administration.
May Allah SWT bless you with the courage and perseverance that is needed to face the present challenges and take a strong stand against injustices.
M Ghazali Khan