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AMU professors want CBI inquiry into murders, violence

September 24, 2007 11:23 IST
After the recent violence at the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University made headlines across India, the AMU Teachers Association called a special General Body Meeting to discuss the issue.

The sprawling AMU campus -- with approximately 25,000 students -- witnessed large-scale violence after Mazhar Nayeem, a second year student, was murdered near his hostel. Three students have been murdered on the campus in the last six months. The university was closed to control the student unrest that erupted after Nayeem's death.

At the AMUTA meeting called to take stock of the volatile situation, the teachers expressed alarm at rediff.com's report, What ails AMU?. 'The Internet is exposing them (the teachers) all over the world,' observed the AMU faculty.

Ariful Islam, a professor of statistics and the author of an acclaimed Urdu novel, voiced concern that AMU teachers have earned notoriety for allegedly being the conspirators behind the student violence.

Political science Professor Mohibbul Haq felt the students' uncontrolled anger was bound to generate retributive violence as Nayeem's killers had gone unpunished.

AMUTA Secretary Dr Abdus Salam strongly condemned the violence and said, "It appears that the university and district administration have not moved an inch towards working out the two murders, reflecting their complacency and non-seriousness about the matter."

"The GBM expresses its loss of confidence in the law enforcing machinery," he added.

The AMUTA GBM passed a resolution for a time-bound inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the murders and ransacking of university property.

Another complaint among the teachers was that AMU Vice-Chancellor Abdul Azis is dependent on the advice of elected representatives on the executive council. The teachers alleged that some council members are elected on the basis of their caste and region and have their own agenda to pursue.

The vice-chancellor should discuss important issues with a cross-section of senior teachers, members of the AMU faculty felt.

Some teachers complained that the vice-chancellor was acting on the advice of a small caucus of "unpopular and academically incompetent teachers." They wanted the vice-chancellor to visit the residential halls, be accessible to students and address their grievances.

At the AMUTA meeting, the teachers demanded that the vice-chancellor tell them about the university's strategies to flush out criminals from the campus. They expressed doubts about whether AMU's closure will keep criminals away from the campus.

The teachers alleged that the university authorities were aware that some hostels served as hideouts for dubious individuals, but did not initiate action as they were backed by various lobbies.

Many teachers were worried about the recent series of events tarnishing AMU's image as an educational institution's image makes a difference in this age of global competitiveness. Moreover, the mid-term examinations of many courses will be delayed because of the university's closure.

However, Dr Shahid, a former AMUTA secretary, felt that since the students had resorted to violence, they must suffer the consequence of their actions. "Hum logon ne unke career ka theka nahin le rakha hai (We professors are not responsible for their career)," he stated vehemently.

Some teachers pushed for an inquiry to find out if any teachers had patronised criminals. A police complaint has been lodged against an AMU Students Union official and a research scholar for allegedly instigating the violence on the campus.

Most of the student violence at AMU has its origins in the rivalries between professors. A newspaper recently reported that the rivalry between two AMU professors may have been one of the reasons for the April-May unrest at AMU.

The vice-chancellor later called a meeting of senior teachers and proposed that police and paramilitary forces be deployed on the campus for effective maintenance of law and order. The teachers demanded that the campus should be made conducive for learning and wanted teachers hobnobbing with criminals and instigating violence to be immediately exposed and punished.

The teachers also told the vice-chancellor that the immediate re-opening of the university should be the prime concern.

The writer, who teaches at AMU, did not wish to be identified for this article.
A Special Correspondent in Aligarh