Dear AMU Vice-Chancellor, No Sycophancy at Our Cost

Prof. Tariq Mansoor, Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, recently wrote an opinion column for the Indian Express criticising the BBC series The Modi Question as an attempt to create “false and illogical discourse”.

Accusing the BBC of judicial contempt, Prof. Mansoor maintains that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s repeated electoral wins are a proof of the popular support Modi enjoys, apparently including that of the minority communities. As if these claims themselves were not superficial, he goes on to unabashedly argue that the BBC Series creates a sense of ‘false victimhood’ among Indian Muslims.

The Vice-Chancellor’s decisions have previously been criticised on various occasions by the student community for aligning with majoritarian Hindutva interests — including inviting police and paramilitary forces inside the campus to ‘control’ students protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act, which resulted in a traumatic night of police brutality.

Some may argue that some of his unpopular administrative decisions taken with bonafide intentions may be condoned in the larger interests of the University. However, with respect to the said opinion piece, it does not behove the Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University to take public stands quite contrary to what the general sentiments of AMU students are — at least till the time he holds the high office.

Prof. Mansoor has a voice at the global platform as the representative of the students of one of the major Muslim minority institutions in India. As such, it is his duty to use this voice responsibly. He has no right to speak for Muslim youth if as our spokesperson he paints false pictures. The truth is that Muslim youth do not consider Modi as an ‘answer that is undoing many of the injustices against us’, and if he claims so, it is a flagrant betrayal and a violation of the trust reposed in him by virtue of the office he holds.

Although the arguments of judicial contempt and electoral wins may be debatable, Prof. Mansoor’s attempt at whitewashing the lived horror and trauma of Indian Muslims as a sense of ‘false Muslim victimhood’ is condemnable. Prof. Mansoor takes a superficial and centrist approach while considering atrocities against Muslims as stray incidents. He overlooks the systemic violence meted out against Muslims in India which cannot be ignored behind any number of ‘smoke-free kitchens’. Ironically enough, Prof. Mansoor’s opinion piece seems to be a feeble but outrageous attempt at trying to cover up the smoke arising out of the burning pyre of Indian Muslims. Prof. Mansoor has all the right in the world to sing songs of praises for government schemes and policies, but not at the cost of collective lived trauma of the Indian Muslim community.

History must take note that when students of AMU were voicing out their general discontent and anger against the Modi regime, not only did Prof. Mansoor help in stifling these voices, but also undertook shoddy PR exercises to appease the political masters at Lucknow and Delhi.

Taha Bin Tasneem is a fourth-year law student at the Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University. He has previously written for the LeafletLaw And Other Things, and LiveWire.

Featured image: AMU website