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'Gujarat riots were unfortunate, but Muslims need to move on'

Last updated on: January 27, 2011 19:35 IST

Maulana Gulam Mohammad Vastanvi, the vice chancellor of Darul Uloom Deoband, on Thursday clarified that he will not resign from his post.

Vastanvi had faced strong criticism for his alleged comments about Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The Urdu press had quoted the Maulana as saying that Muslims should forget the post-2002 Godhra communal riots and move on. He also reportedly said that the community did not face discrimination in Gujarat. 

Speaking to on the telephone from Vadodara in Gujarat, the VC said that he had not put in his papers, but had "merely told reporters he was considering it."

The cleric told that he did say that Modi had brought development to Gujarat but "never said that the Muslim community did not face discrimination in the state." 

"I never gave a clean chit to Narendra Modi. All I said was that he had brought development to the state. The statements I made were badly misrepresented in the Urdu press. You can read the interview I gave to that Urdu newspaper. In that, not even in a single place can you see me give a clean chit to Modi. Yes, the riots were extremely unfortunate and unfair to Muslims. They do need justice for it, but in the meantime, they need to move on as well," Vastanvi told

Speaking about his earlier decision to quit as the VC, Vastanvi said that he wanted to resign keeping the welfare of the students at Deoband in mind.

"Darul Uloom is a big institution with a lot of students. Because of the controversy I found myself in, I did not want to affect the welfare of my students. I had not put in my papers; I had merely told reporters that I was considering it. Hearing the news, many of my well wishers in Deoband and other places advised me not to (resign), as I could really contribute to Deoband with my experience and bring in some positive changes. They showed me that my resignation will not solve anything and that I could help more if I stayed on. So I decided not to tender my resignation. Of course, the Majlis-e-Soora (governing council) is meeting on February 23 to take a decision on this. Till then, I will continue as the VC," Vastanvi said.

Vastanvi, who was elected VC on January 10, faced protests from students at the 200-year-old seminary after news about his reported remarks spread. 

"Yes, there was some violence and I was upset about it. In fact, those protests were one of the primary reasons I wanted to quit. But my well-wishers made me see that there are a lot of students in this institution and hardly some 15-20 students protested. They were, no doubt, provoked, but the majority did not protest. So I decided to stay on for them," Vastanvi said. 

Vastanvi, who is not a traditional cleric, is active on social networking sites and also holds a MBA. He has also faced opposition for not being a Qasimi (a follower of the founder of Deoband, Maulana Qasim Nanautvi), though he has been with the Deoband since 1998. 

Vastanvi arrived in Vadodara on Thursday from Delhi.

Speaking of the warm reception he received in Vadodara, he said, "There were a large number of people who gave me a warm welcome when I came. I hope I will receive the love and care of people in the future as well."

Sahim Salim