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Jamia Urdu thrown to the wolves
By S Ubaidur Rahman in Aligarh

Jamia Urdu is bleeding and bleeding profusely. It has almost been done to death. Its coffers are empty and sources of income have been dried up. All the money in different accounts of the Jamia has been emptied, rather stolen. Its Rs 15 million deposit with Steel Authority of India (SAIL) has been withdrawn and squandered away. The Jamia's hard-earned reputation as a centre of excellence has been destroyed. Several groups and sub-groups are yearning to get hold of this historical institution that has been serving Urdu and helped it survive in post-Partition era. Their endeavor has nothing to do with the language or for that matter with the community, but to serve their own narrow interests.

Jamia Urdu’s annual income comes to millions of rupees. And that is the element which is driving different parties crazy to get hold of it.

Jamia, where around 1.4 lakh students appeared in different examinations in 1998, has seen a steady decline ever since. Only 64 thousand students appeared in different examinations in 1999 and the strength declined further to a meagre 35 thousand last year. Aijaz Tirmizi, an accountant in Jamia Urdu and the vice president of its employees union says that if things do not improve, the enrolment will further decline.

Jamia employees have not been paid their monthly salaries since January this year except one month salary in June and that too from their provident fund that luckily stands unscathed. There are around three hundred employees, most of whom are now searching for other options. They have been literally starving. A number of fourth grade employees are reported to have been forced to ply rickshaws. Some are doing other petty jobs in order to feed their families. Most of the staff members have not been able to pay the tution fees of their children. A number of them have not paid their rents and other monthly bills and are now facing eviction by their landlords.

The story does not stop here. Several degrees of the Jamia that qualified students for different graduate and post graduate courses and employment in different states have been de-recognized. Even Aligarh Muslim University has de-recognized Jamia’s degrees. Adeeb-e-Mahir, that qualified a student to seek admission in BUMS in the AMU, does not find its place in the AMU prospectus. Delhi government used to recognize the ‘Muallim’ degree of the Jamia for teaching posts in primary schools, but a recent circular has said that Muallim degree holders can no longer seek employment here. A number of Jamia students who had passed Muallim were able to get employment in different government schools in UP during Mulayam Singh’s administration and even later. The UP government had recognized the degree for the assistant teacher’s post in primary schools. But the government has recently withdrawn that facility.

A number of other universities that recognized Jamia degrees for admission in various courses in UP, Bihar, Punjab and Rajasthan have withdrawn recognition. Some others are contemplating to do so.

Things have come to such a pass that the Jamia remains closed for around a month now and different factions are now involved in legal and goonda battle.

It all started with the arrival of Anwar Saeed in the Jamia as deputy registrar, says an old Jamia employee and office bearer of recently formed Jamia Urdu Employees Union. 'He is the person who has destroyed the Jamia within a very small period. He is now facing several cases of fraud and cheating to the tune of more than Rs 60 million,’ he adds.

Tirmizi says that Anwar always rides others’ shoulders and he knows perfectly how to discard those persons who are no longer of use or who start aspiring to play an independent role. He bought and brought different people to fight different people. And after some time he again brought others to fight those who helped him earlier. It went on till very recently but the game cannot continue for eternity says a union leader. His first casualty was Razi Khan Afridi who was the Jamia registrar when Anwar Saeed joined as deputy registrar. Afridi is reputed for his honesty and upright and civilised manners.
Every year the Jamia purchases a large quantity of copies for examinations. Afridi insisted that lowest bid will be considered for the purchase of the copies. Anwar wanted to go for the highest bid to make some extra fast bucks. Afridi insisted and, as a former confidant of Anwar Saeed says, he collaborated with the then vice-chancellor of the Jamia, Dr Masood Hasan Khan, and leaked out the papers. He then shrewdly got the matter ‘probed’ and accused the registrar to have leaked the papers!

Poor Afridi felt so much embarrassed that he told the VC that he intended to resign. But it was only verbally. But the eager VC accepted his verbal resignation and appointed Anwar Saed as registrar. It was then that Saeed started playing his game. He forced the Pro-Vice Chancellor Khalique Anjum also to resign. It was again a forged case as one of his former friends, Farhat Ali Khan, says. Farhat says that Anwar Saeed forged a case against Anjum that involved a paltry sum of Rs 250 and forced him out. This was the time when Saeed got a new constitution of the Jamia registered with the Deputy Registrar Chits and Funds, Agra, that placed all the powers in the hands of secretary who was none other than Anwar Saeed himself thanks to his coteries.

But there were hurdles in the way. First Saeed had to fight Khalique Anjum. He brought in a local businessman, Haji Muqeet. Later he thought that Haji was not of his use and he is taking an independent path. He brought in local MLA Abdul Khaliq to tame the Haji. Haji went to court and the case is still pending.

Later his relations with Abdul Khaliq too deteriorated and he brought local goonda elements, like Farhat and Abrar, to tame the MLA. He appointed Farhat as officer on special duty in the Jamia and Abrar as personnel officer. Over their shoulders he rode comfortably for quite some time and did whatever was possible to divert to his bank accounts every single rupee that the Jamia had earned and invested over the years. He allegedly bribed the local administration heavily. ‘When the Jamia employees are not getting their monthly salaries a son of a SSP is getting Rs 10000 monthly as scholarship’ says Farhat Ali Khan. ‘He bought local officials upto the levels of inspectors and sub-inspectors. He spent considerable amount on the marriage ceremony of the brother of the lone Muslim minister in the UP government who is very near to him’ Farhat claims.

This was all to protect him from the long hands of law. He started a lavish life-style and spent recklessly over his local and foreign tours. He got his son admitted to UK school and started visiting London every now and then. All his visits were paid for by the Jamia Urdu. He did not visit UK alone. He had a team of his coteries always in tow.

Saeed withdrew money using all possible ways from Jamia accounts. Tirmizi, who sees accounts in the Jamia, says he spent Rs 3.8 million on the construction of his residence on the first floor of the Jamia building in Aligarh. Tirmizi says that actually the cost would have been only around Rs 1.5 million. He adds that bills worth Rs 10000 were raised for only ‘salad’ in the Jamia functions which were organized every now and then. And every function caused the flight of lakhs of rupees from Jamia accounts.

Farhat says that ‘Anwar Saeed started corrupting the Jamia system by selling the examination papers before the exams.’ ‘Appointing the inspector of examinations was also a lucrative business for him. The Jamia staff was never appointed as inspector of examinations. Allotment of centres was also a money minting machine for him', says Tirmizi. Earlier Jamia had a policy that no centre will be allotted within the radius of forty kilometers of an existing centre. But all these norms were thrown to the winds by by him. Now there are four and five centres in every town.

He launched a monthly Urdu magazine Qaus-o Quzah despite the fact that Jamia has its own official magazine, Adeeb. This magazine on glossy paper is nothing but a PR excercise. Many glazed pages of the magazine are devoted to the colour photos of the registrar attending functions and meeting people. This correspondent was struck hard when Syed Sajid, controller of the Jamia, informed that the magazine that is priced at Rs 15 costs Rs 18 when it comes from the press. The heavy posting charges are extra. And almost all the copies are sent free.

Anwar Saeed also launched a daily newspaper Qaumi Mafad from Aligarh. The story here is no different than Qaus-o-Quzah. Syed Sajid says that the copy printing cost of this newspaper is around Rs 5 but it is priced at Rs 2. This too is a PR exercise according to Sajid. It was closed when the Jamia bank accounts were emptied. Saeed also launched an English-medium primary school in the Jamia campus. There are now 11 students and three teachers besides three fourth grade employees in the school. The fee charged is a meagre Rs 150 but Jamia spends more than twenty times on every student.

‘He was doing all these when the employees in the Jamia had nothing to feed their children,’ says a Jamia staffer. He furnished his office and enjoyed everything that money could buy, says a member of the Jamia employees union that was formed last May when it became clear that things have clearly gone out of gear. ‘It had also become essential as we had no option but to press unanimously for our demands’ says Aijaz Tirmizi.

Meanwhile, Farhat and Abrar filled the executive council with their relatives by paying Rs 25000 per member as required in the new constitution prepared by Saeed. When their relations were strained they defied Anwar Saeed and ‘elected’ one Abad Hasan Khan (brother-in law of Farhat) as the new registrar. Another person was elected as the society’s president. They also procured approval for these actions from the office of the deputy registrar, Chits and Funds, Agra.

Now Anwar Saeed stands exposed and friend-less. He is trying to secure stay from the high court. But as most people believe, he stands no chance of getting stay from the court. To put salt on Saeed’s injury, Abad Hasan Khan has inserted an advertisement in Dainik Jagran that proclaims him to be a fugitive!

There are now three parties to the Jamia dispute. One consists of Anwar Saeed, the second one belongs to Farhat and the third one is that of Haji Muqeet. All of them are involved in a high-pitch legal battle. Farhat who was implicated in a case of shoot-out in Jamia on 23 June, and was denied bail thanks to the money power of Anwar Saeed, had to remain in jail for 20 days, is now baying for his blood. ‘When I can save him from goonda elements I can also get his head shaven and paraded on the streets’ says Farhat in a tense environment in his palatial house where plain cloth security guards are keeping vigil all the time. He has damaged in three years what was built in 63 years of Jamia’s life’ says Farhat. 'We will not allow him to play with the Jamia any more, he adds unconvicingly.

‘People feel that it were Farhat and Abrar who made him live in a make-believe world and taught him that he could do anything as long as he has money' says a senior member of the Jamia employees union. He adds that till 1997 he was neither as rude nor corrupt as he became after his friendship flourished with the duo. Haji Manzoor, father of Haji Muqeet, feels that his son's step of forcing Khalique Anjum out of the Jamia was the biggest mistake. He says the step deprived Jamia of a laureate who worked selflessly and efficiently for the Jamia. When asked about Farhat and Abrar he said that they are worse than Anwar Saeed and their association with Jamia proved detrimental for the historical institution.

On the other hand, Jamia union leaders say that they will cooperate with whoever comes legally. But what strikes most is that no one in the community seems interested in the Jamia affairs. So much for our love for Urdu..

Top: Jamia Urdu turned into a fortress by Anwar Saeed;
Below from left: Anwar Saeed, Abrar, Farhat, Syed Sajid and Aijaz Tirmizi
Pictures: Ahmad Rahmani

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