Essay

Politics and AMU

Print edition : March 18, 2016

September 9, 1962: Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru being greeted by M.C. Chagla, the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, at Heathrow Airport in London. On Republic Day 1962 he wrote an article in The Times (London), which was a tirade on Indian Muslims. Photo: The Hindu Archives

Despite the Law Commission's unanimous view that the practice of a judge looking forward to or accepting employment after retirement was undesirable, Chagla resigned to become India's Ambassador to the United States. The above minutes by Subirmal Dutt, Foreign Secretary, published for the first time from the archives, shows how Chagla was willing to demean himself in that quest. Chagla supresses this episode in his autobiography.

On how the university got enmeshed in political battles with communal overtones.

The Allahabad High Court said in 2005 that it would follow the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Azeez Basha case in 1967. It was dismissive of H.M. Seervai’s critique of the ruling. There is, however, a highly significant judgment by Justices S. Murtaza Fazal Ali and B.R. Mishra of the Supreme Court questioning that ruling and urging its “reconsideration” by “a larger Bench” to be constituted by the Chief Justice of India. This judgment was delivered on November 26, 1981. That bench has not yet been constituted (see box on page 65).

The fons et origo of the 50-year-old controversy, which poisoned the communal atmosphere particularly in Uttar Pradesh, is not the criminal assault on Ali Yavar Jung, the Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on April 25, 1965. It is the ordinance which the Education Minister, M.C. Chagla, got promulgated to suspend AMU’s constitution and further to challenge its long-accepted status as an educational institution founded by the Muslims. It is this assertion made for the first time by a Minister in the Government of India which sowed the seeds of that poison. They could not have been sown by one who himself did not have a poisoned outlook towards the Muslims of India. Chagla was Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, highly respected for his independence and courtesy. He stood up manfully against the Emergency and won deserved praise.

But his disservice to the nation on a crucial issue and his record as a jobseeker has been neglected. That record deserves to be laid bare to illustrate how an Uncle Tom can damage the public interest. Chagla was a junior in the chambers of Mohammad Ali Jinnah to whom he dedicated his book on the Indian Constitution in force under the Government of India Act, 1919, with characteristically fulsome praise—no man is a hero to his valet but Chagla had put him on a pedestal. The dedication was removed in later editions when the writer fell out with his mentor.

A highly respected contemporary and Chagla’s friend M.C. Setalvad’s comments on Chagla were scathing: “The Law Commission had, after careful consideration, expressed the unanimous view that the practice of a Judge looking forward to or accepting employment under the government after retirement was undesirable as it could affect the independence of the judiciary. We, therefore, recommended that a constitutional bar should be imposed on Judges accepting office under the Union or State governments similar to the bar in the case of the Auditor and Comptroller-General and members of Public Service Commission. Chagla, who was Chief Justice of Bombay and a member of the Commission, had concurred in this recommendation. He had, however, always yearned to be in politics, and had while Chief Justice expressed political opinions which a Judge ought not to. He was so keen to get into politics that soon after the Report was signed by him (‘even before the ink of his signature on the report was dry’—as observed in a letter to the press) he resigned his office to become India’s Ambassador to the United States. His action was characteristic of the self-seeking attitude of many of our leading men” ( My Life, Law and Other Times; p. 261; emphasis added, throughout).

What is not known is that he was very willing to demean himself in that quest as this minute by Subirmal Dutt, Foreign Secretary, shows. It is published here for the first time from the archives (see box on page 63).

Profession of leftist views did not inhibit acceptance of a judgeship in the Bombay High Court in 1941. In the famous case of Keshav Talpade—as significant in 1944 during the Quit India Movement as the habeas corpus case was during the Emergency—Chagla joined Chief Justice John Beaumont in deciding against the detainee. Another English judge, Eric Weston, dissented from both and ruled in favour of Talpade. Setalvad characterised Chagla’s stand as “strange”.

Chagla enjoyed no support among Congress Muslims. National politics was none the richer for his presence. In a Lok Sabha debate, in February 1965, on a well-documented Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report on Biju Patnaik, former Chief Minister of Orissa, Chagla said: “I would not hang a dog on the basis of an ex parte statement.” The report was based on official records. Chagla promoted his career. He harmed the national interest. Patnaik was later indicted by Justice H.R. Khanna.

Chagla flatly denied, in the Lok Sabha on September 3, 1965, that the AMU was founded by a minority, the Muslims, and was, therefore, entitled to invoke the fundamental right embodied in Article 30(1) of the Constitution which guaranteed its autonomy. But Ali Yavar Jung, himself the Vice- Chancellor, persisted in his defence of the university. At a press conference in Bombay on May 12, 1966, he ably summed up the ethos of the AMU. To quote a report in The Times of India the next day: “Nawab Ali Yavar Jung said that there need be no controversy about the basic character of the university. He saw no contradiction in its being a national Muslim university. It was principally meant for Muslims in the sense that education was provided in their religion, philosophy and traditions. But that did not mean that it was to be run for Muslims exclusively. It must continue to be a national university. He said there was no distinction of religion in the recruitment of teachers. About 40 per cent of the students were non-Muslim.”

The Congress issued a three-line whip to its members in Parliament to secure the passage of the Amendment Act of 1965 which completely deprived the university of its autonomy. It, however, allowed a free vote on the proposal to change the name of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), as a first step towards a similar move on the AMU. The proposal was defeated in the Lok Sabha on November 15, 1966.

As High Commissioner to Britain, Chagla contributed to The Times (London) on Republic Day 1962 an article, not on the country’s achievements as is expected of its envoy, but a tirade on Indian Muslims. No Indian Ambassador has ever behaved thus to this day. Entitled “Muslims Stand Apart”, the article began with the question, “Is there a Muslim problem in India?”, and proceeded to answer: “If there is a problem it is an emotional one, and it exists largely because of the unwillingness of the Muslims to integrate themselves into the country, and then desire to consider themselves as separate and even to emphasise this separation” (sic).

He proceeded to lament: “They still talk of minorities, of minority rights, and even the most nationalist among them can foregather in a Muslim convention to give expression to their fears and suspicions.” He went so far as to question their loyalty to the country.

Chagla and the BJP

None who knew Chagla was surprised to find him inaugurating the foundation session of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bombay on April 5, 1980. He met the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Balasaheb Deoras and was seen merrily in his company. Both questioned Muslims’ loyalty to India; birds of the same feather. What is little known is his opposition to Dr Zakir Husain’s candidature for the presidency in 1967. He was so exercised as to approach the President, Dr S. Radhakrishnan, and urge him to continue in office. S. Gopal’s record is revealing for reasons more than one. “M.C. Chagla, a member of the Cabinet and a secular-minded Muslim, urged him not to expose Zakir Husain to an election for, even if Husain won, it would strengthen communal feeling in the country with disastrous consequences” (Gopal, Radhakrishnan: A Biography; Oxford University Press, 1989; p. 358). Chagla would have been only too willing if he were offered the job himself.

In 1967, Chagla’s successor, Dr Triguna Sen, completely repudiated his stand. He was asked, “Would you like that the Islamic character of the Aligarh Muslim University, as bequeathed by its founder, should be maintained and protected?

“Answer: It is the fundamental, democratic right of the minorities guaranteed by the Constitution, to be provided with every opportunity and facility to maintain their own educational institutions at all levels. The basic Islamic character of the Aligarh Muslim University must be maintained and promoted at all costs and in all circumstances. It is obvious that the name of the Muslim University must also be kept unchanged.

“Q. But how do you feel in this regard? As you know, he [Mr Chagla] left no stone unturned to demolish the minority character as well as the name of the Muslim University.

“A. I personally feel that Mr Chagla was absolutely wrong in his approach. Rather he went beyond his limit” ( Radiance Weekly; May 7, 1967).

Chagla’s autobiography published in 1973 reveals more than he suspected. On the Banaras Hindu University Bill, which sought to delete the word “Hindu” from the name, he wrote: “Ultimately, the Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha retaining the old name, and the Rajya Sabha too accepted the amendment passed by the Lok Sabha, although this happened only after a heated and acrimonious debate. Throughout the proceedings in Parliament I took the position that, although my personal views were clear and unambiguous, I would leave the matter to the free vote of Parliament. It seems to me that when an issue arises which arouses strong feelings and touches deep sentiments, it is unwise to decide the issue by a brute majority, the ruling party itself being forced to vote in accordance with the whip issued. The issue should be left to be decided by a vote which really reflects the true opinion of Parliament” ( Roses in December; pp. 371-2).

But he would not apply this principle to Muslim sentiment. “In the whole of this controversy, what was most painful as well as revealing was the spectacle of the so-called ‘Nationalist Muslims’ of the old days appearing in their true colours. I had always thought that the Congress in its anxiety to appease the minorities had supported many Muslims who were really communal at heart, and set them up as nationalist leaders before an unsuspecting public. In a sense I was glad that these so-called ‘Nationalist Muslims’ had been fully exposed during this controversy. They had shed the nationalist garb, which they wore for the sole purpose of finding favour with the Congress, and were now appearing in their true communal clothes.” Vituperation came naturally to Chagla for those who disagreed with him.

He was hopelessly isolated as noted. “What surprises and pains me most is the almost complete silence on the part of the nationalist Muslims and the nationalist Muslim Press. I can understand the attitude of the people whose outlook has been reactionary and communal. But what has happened to those who have put themselves forward as nationalists and progressive Indians” ( The Hindustan Times; July 5, 1965). Senior Ministers such as Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Humayun Kabir were opposed to his stand. So were old nationalists like M.Y. Nurie and Dr Syed Mahmud, a close friend of Jawaharlal Nehru; men who had gone to prison as Congressmen, unlike Chagla who accepted judgeship during the British rule and held it against a detenu imprisoned by the British.

Even Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was sceptical. “I remember when the Aligarh University Bill was being discussed in Parliament and Muslim feelings had been roused to a pitch of fanaticism (sic), he was very much worried about the action I was taking. He used constantly to ask me: ‘Are you sure that you are doing the right thing? We must not alienate the minorities. We must carry them with us.’ And I would assure him that what I was fighting for was an important principle, and the nationalist section of the Muslims was wholly with me. One Friday morning there was a Cabinet meeting before Parliament assembled. On that day Parliament was to resume the debate on the Aligarh Bill which had commenced on the preceding Thursday.

“When the Cabinet meeting was over, Shastri called me to his side. He said: ‘I have had a request from several Muslim members that the debate should not continue today, as it was a Friday and the members wanted to go for their prayers.’ He asked me whether I would not consider this request and adjourn the debate. I told him that Parliament had never adjourned on any Friday that I knew of and that it would set a very bad precedent” (pp 445-6).

So much for respect for feelings. The claim that “the nationalist section of the Muslims was wholly with me”, which he made to Shastri, was false to his knowledge. He asserted its direct opposite at page 380 quoted above. Chagla had no roots among Muslims, their culture and ethos. Sample this bit: “At the end of the meetings of the Majlis we used to sing Iqbal’s Sare Jehanse Achhha, Hindustan Hamara. This was written by Iqbal in his nationalist days, and when he changed his politics and became an extreme communalist he altered the first line to suit his newly found faith in Pakistan.” The Pakistan resolution was passed in 1940 after Iqbal’s death. It is a reckless, if hilarious, falsehood; for the two poems, which are wholly different in themes could not possibly pass off with any such change. Chagla knew no Urdu at all. It is this malevolence which produced the Aligarh crisis. Ali Yavar Jung took a line completely different from Chagla’s in their correspondence ( The Times of India; June 19, 1965). What is revealing is Chagla’s total omission of any reference to his friend H.M. Seervai’s views on the AMU. It was an entirely solo performance by Chagla.

Soon Muslim Congressmen who had to face the people busied themselves trying to mend matters when another tragedy engulfed the community because of this one individual. Following the India-Pakistan war of 1965, during which G.L. Nanda was Home Minister, there were massive arrests of Muslims all over the country, from news vendors to writers. On October 20, 1967, came the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Azeez Basha case.

A committee was set up in a meeting of selected Muslims from all over India. The meeting was called by Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, a Cabinet Minister who was authorised by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to deal with the AMU Bill, in Delhi on August 2, 1968, in Udyog Bhawan, New Delhi. Its members were (1) Basheer Saeed (ex-Judge, Madras High Court), (2) Professor Humayun Kabir (ex-Union Minister), (3) Khalil Ahmed (ex-Chief Justice, Orissa), (4) Syed Ali Zaheer (ex-Minister for Justice, Uttar Pradesh), (5) K.G. Saiyidain (ex-Education Adviser, Government of India), (6) Zafar Ahmed Sidiqi Vakil (a representative of Old Boys Convention Council), (7) Obaidur Rahman Khan Sherwani (Secretary, AMU Old Boys Association), and (8) M.M. Begg (Convener).

It recommended that Section 2 of the Act of 1920 be amended as follows: “Notwithstanding any judgment, decree or order of any Court or Tribunal to the contrary, the Aligarh Muslim University shall be deemed to have been established by the Muslim minority of India as an educational institution of its choice, and shall be administered and managed as provided for in Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India.” The Begg Report helped to calm nerves, but did no more than that.

Congress’ assurances

The Lok Sabha was dissolved in December 1970 following the Congress split. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s men went about trying to secure Muslim support. The Praja Socialist Party leader Dr A.J. Faridi drew up a record of assurances on the AMU and published it after they were broken. He was never contradicted (Vide A.G. Noorani (Ed.), The Muslims of India: A Documentary Record, for the text vide pp. 362-365).

“After five talks in December 1970 and January 1971, one took place on 22 January 1971. At the residence of Sardar Jogendra Singh MP (Electric Lane), Mr H.N. Bahuguna and I [Faridi] discussed the current affairs. At 10 p.m. Mr Bahuguna came to take me to the Prime Minister’s residence for final talks which lasted for about forty-five minutes. Mr H.N. Bahuguna and Mr U.S. Dixit sat outside the room. It was mutually agreed to add the following paragraph in the Congress election manifesto, and Mr Bahuguna wrote them down:

“54. Secularism is one of the basic tenets of our Constitution. In accordance with this constitutional imperative the Congress will strive to ensure that all minorities have full freedom to establish, manage, and run educational and other institutions.

“55. The Congress will strive to ensure the democratic functioning and protect the autonomous character of educational institutions, including those established at the instance of and for the benefit of minorities.

“56. The Congress is fully alive to the need for encouraging literary pursuits in different languages. In this context, Urdu shall be given its due place which has been denied to it so far.

“The PM specifically stated that paragraphs 54 and 55 referred to Aligarh Muslim University. At the PM’s suggestion the name of AMU was not mentioned as that would excite the opponents and if the name of one minority institution was mentioned it would be unfair to delete the others, viz., Christian College, etc. The words ‘injustice to Urdu’ were also added in paragraphs 53 and 56. The PM also remarked that there would be no difficulty in establishing an Urdu university in UP. The formation of Minority Councils was accepted in principle. …

“6 June 1971: I met the PM in her office at 4 p.m. and requested her to fulfil her pre-election promises. She gave a patient hearing and asked me to speak to the Chief Minister of UP about the same. Regarding Aligarh Muslim University she said that the Home Minister was looking into the matter. …

“It is, therefore, clear from the above that the Muslim voters in particular were asked by the leaders of the community to vote for the Congress (R) in 1971 general elections for the Lok Sabha, on the basis of specific assurances given by the Congress (R) leaders. Over 90 per cent of Muslims voted for the Congress on our appeals. The two-thirds majority which the Congress got in the Lok Sabha is undoubtedly due to Muslims voting en masse for the Congress party. It is unfortunate that not a single one of the aforesaid promises has so far been fulfilled by the PM or the Chief Minister of UP in spite of the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ (to quote Pandit Kamalapati Tripathi).”

New amendment and riots

In May 1972, the Union Minister for Education, Nurul Hasan, pushed through the Lok Sabha a new amendment which, far from falling in line with the electoral manifesto promises, in effect, tightened the control of the Centre over the university. It raised a storm. Politically it proved a disaster. “Firstly it aggravated the steps which had been initiated in 1965, which amounted to denying the minority character of the AMU. It concentrated too much power in the hands of the Vice-Chancellor, and thus violated the principle of autonomy” (Violatte Graff; “Aligarh’s Long Quest for ‘Minority’ Status”; Economic & Political Weekly; August 11, 1990).

Riots broke out all over Uttar Pradesh; not between Hindus and Muslims, but between Muslims and the dreaded Provincial Armed Constabulary. In June 1972, a Convention of Old Boys of the AMU set up the AMU Action Committee. On August 18, 1973, Sheikh Abdullah led a delegation of Muslim leaders to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It comprised Maulana Mufti Atiqur Rahman Usmani, president of Majlis-e-Mushawarat; Justice Khaleel Ahmed, former Chief Justice of Orissa; Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed, former Judge of the Madras High Court; Maulana Mohammed Yusuf, president of the Jamiat-e-Islami Hind; Maulana Mohammed Minnatullah Rahmani, Amir Shariat, Bihar and Orissa, and general secretary, Muslim Personal Law Board; and Sheikh Abdus Sattar of Bombay, joint secretary, Muslim Personal Law Board.

Many topics were discussed. The minutes’ record: “Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed raised the issue of Aligarh Muslim University and said that though repeated assurances were being given to Muslims that the historical character of the University would not be changed, the amending Act had completely destroyed the historical character of this institution as understood by the Muslims. In this connection he took the Prime Minister back to 1915 when the Banaras Hindu University Bill was being debated in the then Legislative Assembly. Sir Ghaznavi and Sir Chimanlal Setalvad had objected to Clause 2 of the Bill which provided that no one other than a Hindu could become a member of the University Court. Malaviyaji in a passionate speech replied that as the University was built mostly through the efforts of the Hindus, in order to promote and preserve Hindu culture and impart instructions to that end, only those who believe in that culture and way of life could become members of the Court. The argument was accepted and Clause 2 retained. Thus in 1920 an identical clause was included in the Muslim University Act which, inter alia, provided that no one other than a Muslim should be elected to the University Court. Nobody had raised an objection. This was the historical character of the Aligarh University as understood by the Muslims.

“Justice Sayeed then referred to the Begg Committee Report. Narrating its history, he said that it was at the initiative of the Prime Minister that the opinion of nearly 200 eminent Muslim educationists, jurists, politicians, parliamentarians, and others was sought through the good offices of Mr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Union Agriculture Minister. Nearly 100 Muslims met in Delhi to discuss in detail the opinions received. A committee under the secretaryship of M.M. Begg was appointed to frame a report on the basis of consensus arrived at in the meeting. This report has made minimum changes in the Act of 1920 and 1951, needed for the progressive functioning of the University and was unanimous on the retention of its minority and democratic character. The report was submitted to the Education Ministry which was then headed by Mr Triguna Sen. Mr Sen is on record to have described the report as a ‘good one’. Later on, Mr V.K.R.V. Rao, his successor, is understood to have prepared a Bill on the basis of the same report. In the meantime Parliament was dissolved.

“Justice Sayeed expressed his deep sorrow and anguish that this report should have been thrown in the dustbin and an entirely new Bill eroding both the democratic and minority character of the institution introduced and passed by Parliament with indecent haste. Justice Sayeed wanted to know the reasons for disregarding the opinion of the 99.9 per cent Muslims and instead adopting the draft prepared by one individual.

“The Prime Minister replied that the difficulty in reaching an understanding on various points and disputes with regard to the future of the Muslim University was caused because some of the leaders of the community adopted and advocated an imitational approach in this matter and she does not temperamentally yield to pressures. The matter had, however, been referred to the Teachers’ Association for suggesting changes in the statutes which will restore the democratic character of the University. In Justice Sayeed’s view this procedure was not going to satisfy the Muslim community. He pointed out that any amendments made to the statutes must be in conformity with the sections of the Act and, therefore, mere change in the statutes could be of no avail. … It was, therefore, urged by the deputation that the minimum amendments suggested by the Begg Committee to the sections of the original Act and to the statutes should be accepted and given effect to by the government. To them, nothing short of this would satisfy the Muslim community in regard to the restoration of the University as an institution established and administered by it” (Noorani; pp.168-169).

Janata Party and campaign promises

After the Emergency, the Janata Party government had an excellent opportunity. Arif Baig, a Jana Sangh Muslim who was to become a Minister in the Morarji Desai government, was the first one to raise the issue publicly. In Hyderabad, after the announcement of the elections, on January 20, 1977, he said “that the Janata government would soon take steps to restore the minority character of the AMU”. During the electoral campaign, Morarji Desai himself told Muslims “that their interests, including the restoration of the original character of the AMU, would receive the utmost priority in his government”. He set up a Minorities Commission on January 12, 1978. Various amendments were offered.

It degenerated into a political contest in which definitions of the AMU were bandied about. The Minorities Commission in its report suggested a simple definition of university, namely: “University means the educational institution of their choice, established by the Muslims of India and which was incorporated and designated as the Aligarh Muslim University in 1920 by this Act.” This was fair.

The Janata government’s Bill of 1979 was disingenuous. Clause 3 of the Amendment Bill of 1979 read as follows: “University means the educational institution which originated as the Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College Aligarh, established by the Muslims of India, and which was incorporated in 1920 by this Act.”

The Congress Party came to power in 1980. Its first Bill consisted of only two clauses. The second clause defined university as follows: “University means the educational institution of their choice established by the Muslims of India which originated as The Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College, Aligarh, and which was subsequently incorporated as the Aligarh Muslim University.” This was as disingenuous as the Janata government’s Bill.

Eventually came the Amendment Act of 1981. The Aligarh Muslim University (Amendment) Act, 1981 (Act No.62 of 1981), was enacted on December 31, 1981. Section 3 (iii) defined “University” to mean “the educational institution of their choice established by the Muslims of India, which originated as the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, Aligarh, and which was subsequently incorporated as the Aligarh Muslim University.”

‘Majority communalism’

Once, on May 11, 1958, Jawaharlal Nehru told a meeting of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) that the “communalism of the majority is far more dangerous than the communalism of the minority”. He was certainly not condoning the latter. But as he explained later (January 5, 1961), he refused to accept that one particular community was communal and not the other. ‘When minority communities are communal, you can see that and understand it. But the communalism of a majority is apt to be taken for nationalism.”

In this spirit, the AMU was a “haven of communalism” and the BHU of nationalism. In a meticulously researched article, the Italian scholar Maria Casolari wrote: “Referring to the BHU, Malaviya asserted that it ‘would be a denominational but not a sectarian institution’. The foundation of the BHU was the accomplishment of Malaviya’s efforts to strengthen the Hindu sense of identity and cohesiveness. The BHU thus became the public platform from which Malaviya propagandised his political idea. His was a two-pronged approach. As a prominent member of the Hindu Mahasabha, of which he was president in 1923, he could finally extend his programme of reorganising Hindu identity and society to the national level. Founding Hindu primary schools with Hindi as official language, and grass-roots level Hindu organisations, as well as participation in the ‘Shuddi’ movement, were main lines of Malaviya’s political involvements. I do not agree with the interpretation according to which the Hindu Mahasabha was the daughter of the movement for the creation of the BHU. I think it was just the opposite: the BHU was the result of the increasing sense of militancy in the Hindu segment of Indian society. Ultimately, Malaviya’s project of founding a Hindu University was part of a wider project for the promotion of Hindu education, and it also attracted many other organisations and supporters in other parts of northern India. He was part of a political milieu that considered Gandhian non-violence a form of cowardice and harmful to Hindu society, because it would stigmatise the Hindus as weak and ‘emasculated’, according to the terminology used at that time. Like other members of Hindu organisation, including [K.B.] Hedgewar and [B.S.] Moonje, Malaviya was convinced that Hindu militancy might serve as a valid deterrent should Muslim demands become detrimental to Hindu interest.

“According to this view of Hindu/Muslim relations, peace between the two communities could be maintained only by showing to each other the possible destructiveness of a reciprocal attack. It was therefore necessary to delete any impression of weakness of the Hindu community. Certainly, Malaviya’s project had a great deal in common with the RSS programme of building up the Hindu national character. Physical education and military training of BHU students took place under Malaviya’s exhortations. Indeed, the BHU had a most vigorous University Training Corps (UTC). Malaviya had never been a member, but he encouraged students to take part in the activities of the RSS and authorised an RSS building within the campus. The BHU branch of the RSS became very active from 1928, thanks to Malaviya’s sanction and the activity of a number of volunteers. The BHU was thus finally absorbed in the milieu of militant Hinduism. Nevertheless on several occasions in his public speeches Malaviya underlined the necessity to India’s military service, almost in the same terms and with the same emphasis used by B.S. Moonje.

“It is well known that [M.S.] Golwalkar was himself a ‘creature’ of the BHU, where he graduated in biology and subsequently worked as a zoology lecturer. He joined the RSS, at the BHU, after a visit by Hedgewar to the University in 1931. On Malaviya’s invitation, Jawaharlal Nehru also visited the BHU in November 1933. He considered ‘the Hindu University as the very citadel of Hindu communal thought.” (“Role of Benares in Constructing Political Hindu Identity”, Economic &Political Weekly; April 13, 2002).

The Narendra Modi government has revealed its politics on the AMU by withdrawing the Manmohan Singh government’s appeal against the Allahabad High Court judgment. It will probably oppose the AMU’s appeal against it. It bears recalling—the AMU was not a party to the proceedings in which the Supreme Court belittled its status in 1967. The court’s ruling is belied by the AMU’s long and rich history.

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