Hyderabad: Students Protest Against University Chancellor's Official Pro-CAA Statement

Firoz Bakht Ahmad of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University released a statement on official university letterhead saying “CAA and NRC aren’t against Muslims”.

New Delhi: Students and teachers of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), Hyderabad have expressed anger over the pro-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) statements by varsity chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmad. According to Ahmad, ever since issuing the statement, he has received several calls from the students. “Some of them even abused me and few called me a stooge of the RSS,” Ahmad told The Wire.

When asked whether he issued his statement in a personal or official capacity, he said, “How does that even matter? You can understand it as personal as well as from the chancellor. I am the chancellor of the university and will do whatever I understand is right.” However, he maintained that he did not contact anyone in the university before saying what he did. He also said, “I did not do that because the university students have been protesting against the CAA and NRC.”

Amidst protests against CAA and NRC on campus, Ahmad on Friday released an appeal to Muslims using the university letterhead, saying, “CAA and NRC aren’t against Muslims.” According Ahmad, some people with vested interest are trying to vitiate the peaceful and harmonious fabric of India by frightening the Muslim community.

Accusing protesters of creating a situation of civil war, Ahmad in his letter said, “I appeal to you all not to get into the clutches of these politicians who want to break India. Kindly avoid coming on to the roads and strengthen the hands of you Prime Minister Modi who I vouch is you well wisher as his slogan for the Muslims has been, “Ek hath mein Quran/Ek hath mean computer.””

This has not gone down well with the university community, especially its students’ union, which was protesting against the CAA and NRC for over a week now. “We are not against someone issuing a statement or taking position individually,” said MANNU students’ union president Umar Farooq Qadri. “However, what is unacceptable is the misuse of the university and its name for personal gain.” According Qadri, the CAA is a “draconian law” and should be opposed tooth and nail.

Also read: As Anti-CAA Pressure Builds, BJP Govt Goes Discernibly on the Backfoot

On Saturday evening, students reportedly burnt an effigy of the chancellor in campus during a protest to condemn his statement. “This is to give a signal that no misuse of the university name will be tolerated,” a student protester told The Wire, requesting not to be named. The students’ union president claimed, “We students have decided that we will not let the chancellor in the campus.” He said that the protest against the CAA and NRC will go on.

Commenting on the CAA and NRC, Professor Mohd Shahid, who teaches in the social work department, said these laws are not just against Muslims but also Dalits, OBCs and all kinds of marginalised people. “It is an attack on the constitution, and the ethos and democratic principles of our country. Like students and other sections of the citizenry, teachers should also come forward and oppose CAA and NRC in a Gandhian manner.”

Meanwhile, a member of the MANNU teachers’ association on the condition of anonymity told The Wire that the association is pained by the chancellor’s statement. “We are in the process of issuing a statement and it is likely to be out on Monday,” he said, extending solidarity with those protesting against the CAA and NRC on the MANUU campus as well as in other parts of the country. Several other teachers The Wire spoke to echoed this sentiment.

In November this year, university vice-chancellor Aslam Parvaiz had resigned in the wake of tensions on campus since the Ahmad’s appointment in May 2018. According to a news report, the chancellor and the VC had been at loggerheads since the former’s appointment, with both lodging several allegations against the other, requiring the University Grants Commission to even set up a fact-finding committee earlier this year.