In the backdrop of a money laundering case being filed against Lok Sabha (LS) MP and founder of the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University, Azam Khan, university’s pro-vice chancellor and Rajya Sabha (RS) MP Tazeen Fatma has made public an appeal to save the university from the constant attacks by the ruling regime.
Stating that the case on Khan is an attempt by the ruling regime to paralyze the education system, especially because the University has a minority status and educates thousands of minorities, particularly Muslims yearly, Tazeen Fatma in her appeal said, “Mohammad Ali Jauhar University, which is driven by the altruistic principles, despite its impeccable contribution in nation building and the upliftment of the downtrodden is now being targeted for all the wrong reasons by the incumbent government in the state and at the centre as well. The far-right forces are furthering their agenda of demolition of the educational institutions, particularly the universities.”
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered a case against Khan on Thursday under provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, after the directorate took cognisance of at least 26 first information reports (FIR) filed by the police against him. His name features on the state’s anti-land mafia website, which was launched in June 2017 to help identify those who grab land and initiate action against them. Part of the land allegedly grabbed by Khan was acquired to set up the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University.
Fatma further wrote, “A fully functional, up and running university is being ruined on the false pretext of irregularities in the purchase of land and that too in the times when in the outside world the land is usually leased by the governments for educational institutions. All this witch-hunting is just for the reason that the University commemorates the name of a freedom fighter who hails from the minority section of the society and the Chancellor who is a powerful voice in the opposition of the government.”
Responding to the land grab case against him, Azam Khan said, “My name has been added to the anti-land mafia portal. This dispute is about 3.75 bigha land. Will the trust, which is buying 400 acres land to make a university, commit fraud on 3.75 bigha land? Out of these 3.75 bigha land, there are many owners. These people have done registry and taken money via cheques from us.”
Khan further alleged that during the recent raid on his university, over the suspicion of rare books being stolen by them, women professors at the institution were “heckled and abused and his university looted.” He also claimed that he had received those books as gifts. Police carried out raids at Mohammad Ali Jauhar University and recovered more than 1000 expensive books allegedly stolen from other institutes in Rampur. “They have looted my university. The university was supposed to open tomorrow. Where will 3,500 students go now? I have shut down medical college and hospital. I don’t want to run it now… They have looted my antique books,” Khan said.
In a veiled jibe at the ruling party and its leaders, Khan criticised the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and said, “Who will make institutions now? Why do you call them ‘temples’? Yogiji do you loot temples like this? All the things they have taken with them have been bought by us.”
In response to the raids, Azam Khan’s son and MLA Abdullah Azam Khan protested and allegedly obstructed police officials who claim to have confiscated 50 boxes of 2,500 rare and valuable books. Abdullah along with dozens of Samajwadi Party leaders and hundreds of workers were briefly detained by the police officials.
The Opposition party’s leader, Akhilesh Yadav, alleged the there was a conspiracy to defame Azam Khan by framing him in false cases and ruin Mohammad Ali Jauhar University. “The charge of book theft is childish and cheap,” he added. “The BJP government adopted an undemocratic way to prevent peaceful protest by the SP. The citizen’s rights were suppressed, which is condemnable. Abdullah was detained as soon as he came out of his house in Rampur.”
Allahabad High Court asked the Adityanath government to provide details of the case that led the police to raid the university. Justices SK Gupta and SS Shamshery directed the state’s law officer to apprise it of the case after hearing a petition by the university’s registrar challenging the police action. The bench posted the matter for hearing on August 6.
Appealing the academia and the civil society to strand against this autocratic nature of the ruling regime which is “terminally damaging the unity, amity and the integrity” of the society, Fatma’s appeal read, “As Mohammad Ali Jauhar University, Rampur is on the verge of being murdered politically, I appeal to one and all to rise up to the occasion and extend their solidarity in favour of saving the very foundation of our country’s glory.”