Irfan Habib, an Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) professor, has created a stir by questioning the demand for the varsity's minority character. Speaking at an old boys' association meet called "Dialogues Initiative", held at the Kennedy Hall, Habib said that under the AMU Act. the university could not be given the status of a minority institution.
His statement has now been challenged by several Muslim intellectuals, with some of them demanding that action should be taken against him. "Professor Habib's recent remarks about the minority character of the university is a conspiracy against the interest of the community and the institution he serves," said Professor Razaullah Khan, while chairing a meeting of the Forum for Muslim Studies and Analysis (FMSA) Aligarh.
Habib's remark has come at a time when the AMU community is fighting for the restoration of the university's minority status. Razaullah Khan said the Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College (MAO) college, which later became the Aligarh Muslim University, was founded by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan for educating Indian Muslims though its doors were open for all communities. Jasim Mohammad, secretary general of the FMSA, said Habib has created an unnecessary controversy just to please a section of Indian society which is hell bent to ensure backwardness of Indian Muslims.
AMU EC Member Mohammad Shahid said Habib has in the past on several occasions tried to create controversy in order to get cheap publicity. Mohammad Shahid said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had herself assured the university students of minority status during her convocation address and now the Congress is keeping a deadly silence.
Professor Shahabuddin Iraqi, former chairman, Department Of History, said Habib may be a popular man but he lacks any sense for community. FMSA passed a resolution which strongly condemned the statement of Irfan Habib and demanded him to leave the university. In another resolution, FMSA has demanded the university administration to take suitable action against him.