New Delhi: A delegation from Aligarh Muslim University, led by Vice Chancellor Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah, on Saturday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought the NDA government's support in restoring the varsity's 'minority' status, stating that this "would have a salutary effect on minorities who are agitated and apprehensive that their rights are being trampled upon".
Referring to the reported "illegal" establishment of the varsity's three off-campus centres in Kerala, West Bengal and Bihar, he asserted that they had been approved by "the highest policy making bodies of the university, the Government of India and the President of India".
Speaking to PTI after the nearly 40-minute meeting, Shah, who led the five-member delegation comprising some prominent members of the Muslim community, expressed "satisfaction" over the meeting with the Prime Minister.
The memorandum urges the NDA government to revert back to the original stand of previous UPA government of supporting the University in restoring its minority status.
"India is a secular country and the constitution confers upon the minorities a fundamental right under Article 31 to enjoy the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice," it said.
Underlining the fact that NDA's sympathetic handling of the issue would have a positive effect on Muslim youth and would "further bind them to the national mainstream", it noted that "AMU students have behaved in an exemplary manner and have not agitated over this issue".
This step of the NDA government "would have a very salutary effect on the minorities who are presently agitated and apprehensive that their rights are being trampled upon", it said.
It also recalled that BJP, when it was part of Janata Party under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani, had in its manifesto promised to "restore the minority character of the University".
The AMU Vice Chancellor told the Prime Minister, "We have full faith in your sagacity and your slogan 'Sab Ka Sath, Sab Ka Vikas'."
The delegation also discussed issues related to research and education, skill development, and Ganga rejuvenation, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.
The issue of restoration of minority character of AMU is at present pending with the Supreme Court but what has triggered off the protests is the Centre's recent decision to reverse the UPA government's stand of supporting the university in the apex court on this issue.
On January 11, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, during the hearing of this case, had told the court that the NDA government did not support the idea of a state-funded minority institution in a secular state, sparking off a controversy.