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Published in the 16-31 Aug 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Urdu University bill scuttled

By Masood Hasan

Lucknow: The Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Universiy Bill-2004 which was tabled in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly to set up an Urdu university in Rampur has been withdrawn as the Uttar Pradesh Governor T Rajeshwar raised some objections over the creation of a new post for the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohammad Azam Khan as the “Pro-Chancellor” of the Urdu University. The BJP had already objected to the creation of the new post.

UP Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohammad Azam Khan
UP Parliamentary Affairs 
Minister Mohammad Azam Khan

The Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) coalition partners of the ruling Samajwadi Party in the state have also disagreed over the appointment of Azam Khan as the Pro-Chancellor of the Urdu University. The state government pressed hard to get the Bill passed but as the speaker of the Assembly announced to take up the University Bill on 6 August, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan informed the House that the Bill was being withdrawn. Azam Khan has refused to divulge the reasons for withdrawing the Bill.

If sources here are to be believed, a Muslim leader in the RLD, who is close to the RLD chief Ajit Singh, has asked the party chief to convey the party's reservation to the Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav over the appointment of Azam Khan as the Pro-Chancellor of the Urdu University.

The Bill to create an Urdu university in Rampur faced controversies from the very start. BJP opposed it, terming the initiative as a bid by the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led government to appease Muslims. The state unit president of the BJP Kestri Nath Tripathi had termed the move as “purely communal” and said that Mulayam Singh Yadav Government had handed over the university to an individual. 

In another move disliked by the BJP, Mulayam Singh Government has raised the retirement age of Arabic teachers from 60 to 62 years. The Rashtriya Lok Dal, a coalition partner of the ruling Samajwadi Party, in Uttar Pradesh, preferred to keep mum on issues concerning the minorities (i.e., Muslims).
The UP Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, who is the chairman of the Mohammad Ali Jauhar Welfare Trust situated in Rampur, was made pro-chancellor of the proposed university for life with sweeping powers vested in him. The Pro-Chancellor was to address the university’s conferences and preside over the convocation in the absence of the Chancellor.

Sources in the UP education department told Milli Gazette that Mohammad Azam Khan, who is ranked as “number two” in the Mulayam Singh government, was the man pushing the Urdu university project because the university was being opened in Rampur to which he belongs.

Section (9) of the now-withdrawn University Bill said that Mohammad Azam Khan, son of Mohammad Mumtaz Khan of Rampur and chairman of the Maulana Mohammad Ali Jawhar Welfare Trust, would be the pro-chancellor of the university for life. Section 9 (2) said that the pro-chancellor of the university will also be the chairman of the executive council of the proposed university. The state government had decided to spend about one billion rupees to set up the university. The proposed university was to impart education to the students upto research level in Arabic, Persian and Urdu. In this university curriculum based on Islam was to be taught. The state government had justified the need for such an university on the plea that there was no arrangement for proper education in Urdu in the state. Now the state government may present an amended bill omitting the clauses which have caused a storm. 

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