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No Central Funds, Aligarh Muslim University’s Second Campus in West Bengal Faces Uncertain Future

The fund crunch is severe and has affected even day to day activities of the institute.
AMU campus, Murshidabad

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Kolkata: It was supposed to be a sprawling campus spread over 288 acres, with infrastructures meant for kindergarten to undergraduate and postgraduate studies. However, the second campus of the famed Aligarh Muslim University at Murshidabad, West Bengal, is now facing a severe fund crunch due to the non-cooperation of the central government.

Presently, because of the fund crunch, even day to day activities of the institute has been affected.

After the institute’s establishment, only about Rs 60 crores have been allotted to the university campus so far, out of the total requirement of about Rs 1000 crores. As a result, the original proposal of having an engineering college, a medical college, and school facilities on the same campus has taken a hit. The university also offers MBA and undergraduate courses in Law and Education.

The campus is divided into two plots bifurcated by an irrigation canal. There was a proposal to join both sides with a bridge, which
has not happened yet.

Currently, only 520 students are pursuing their education on the 288-acre campus. The system of intake of students and professors is entirely done through the main campus. The Left Front government provided the land for this new campus in 2010. Back then, there were plans for the institute’s development, jobs for local residents and benefits to the minority community students in Murshidabad and the neighbouring districts like Birbhum, Burdwan, and Malda; these districts have a sizeable Muslim population.

Speaking to NewsClick, Prof Dr Nigamananda Biswas, Director in Charge of AMU’s West Bengal campus, said that there are indeed fund shortages in the institution and the everyday operation of the campus is affected by it. The second campus does not have funds for providing work to daily-wage workers for cleaning, gardening and security jobs, and all these are being done with a small workforce. He also informed that with an earlier tranche of funds, two hostels -- one for boys and another for girls -- were constructed.

The Grade A NAAC-accredited institute is now facing a serious challenge in maintaining its quality and keeping the word given to the people of Murshidabad that the campus will have amenities for KG to PG students.

Dr Badaruddoza, former Director during whose time the two hostels had come up, said to NewsClick that the institution’s condition, as far as he knows, is not good due to the lack of funds. Though there are 27 full-time teachers and the quality of faculty is excellent, the condition of the campus is in the doldrums due to the lack of attention from the policymakers at the central level. He added that after 2011, the state government has not been keen on backing the interest of AMU’s second campus before the Union government.

MD Salim, former Minority Affairs minister under the Left Front regime, was closely related to the project. He told NewsClick, “The
bright example set by Aligarh Muslim University in North India in imparting quality modern education to youths of the country’s minority section was supposed to be emulated in other states by setting up AMU campuses in Kerala, Maharashtra, Assam, Bihar and West Bengal." He continued, "While the Left government of Kerala and West Bengal came forward to establish the centres in their respective states, Maharashtra and Assam relented the proposal. The campus in West Bengal was set up at Murshidabad, a district of historical importance, with its nearest railhead at Jangipur. The university aimed to cater to the students of madrasas and the general boards alike."

Salim rued that now both the Modi Government in New Delhi and the Mamata Banerjee-led state government are not taking an interest in running that campus. He added that the Left Front would continuously raise the issue of non-funding of AMU's second campus.

Speaking on the issue, Students Federation of India (SFI) state secretary Srijan Bhattacharya alleged that the Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government is secretly pursuing the open agenda of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

SFI state president Pratikur Rehman added that the AMU contributed to India’s intellectual capacity for over 100 years. "Destabilising its second campus can only be done by those aligned with the RSS, which deliberately wants the minority section students to be out of the educational arena. They are in denial of the secular ethos of the country," he claimed.

Rahman further said, "To deal a blow to the aspirations of the minority section students, steps like cancellation of the Maulana Abul
Kalam Azad scholarships have been taken. In a short period, the number of RSS-affiliated schools has spiked, but the second campus of the AMU is staring at future closure without funds. The TMC and the RSS have a unified agenda to exclude the secular section of society from the scope of higher education."

Speaking to NewsClick, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, said that he has repeatedly tried to get the attention of New Delhi to the condition of the AMU campus in West Bengal but without success. He added that both the Centre and the state government are to be equally blamed for it; the TMC government has not brought the condition of the AMU second campus into its agenda ever. Chowdhury’s Parliament constituency is Murshidabad, which is next to Jangipur, where the AMU campus is located. He said that Murshidabad, a district of 82 lakhs people, and the minority population of adjoining Malda and Birbhum districts would substantially benefit if the full-fledged campus starts operating.

“Muslims are used as only vote banks, and after the election, the parties just overlook us,” said Imam Shafique Kasmi, imam of Nakhoda Masjid. He said that the education of minority youths of the state is of paramount importance and the condition of the AMU second campus reveals a parody of PM Narendra Modi's call of "Sabka Sath Sabka Vikash". "If funds are not given, it will then be a loss for the entire country," he said while talking to NewsClick.

NewsClick also spoke with MD Gholam Rabbani, Minority Affairs Minister under the West Bengal government, who refuted the allegation that the state is not paying heed to the demands of the AMU second campus in Murshidabad. He said that over Rs 1 lakh crore of state funds are pending with the Centre and the TMC MPs and MLAs are busy asking for it. He gave assurance that the demands of the second campus will be raised by the TMC legislators in future in the state Assembly, and added that his party is against all who are depriving the people of Bengal of their rights.

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