AMU again in crossfire over teachers’ union elections

Once again the Aligarh Muslim University administration has been caught in a crossfire over elections to the powerful Aligarh Muslim University Teachers’ Association (AMUTA).

Two days after Prof Mujahid Beg, chief election officer, AMUTA, announced the list of new executive committee members, including Prof S Chandni Bi, as president, there were clear signals of turmoil, leading to intervention by Vice Chancellor Prof Tariq Mansoor.

Interestingly, this is the first time that a female professor and two Hindu teachers became members of the executive committee whose legal status remains in question, as the VC using his special powers, has constituted a new committee to conduct fresh elections. The two non-Muslim assistant members of the executive committee that has been suspended, are Yogesh Kumar Yadav and Dr Kharade Pankaj Prakash.

The vice chancellor’s office explained that in view of several representations received from Aligarh Muslim University Teachers Association (AMUTA) members, the VC Prof Tariq Mansoor in exercise of powers under Section 19 (2) of the AMU Act, 1920 has constituted a four-member committee of ex-AMUTA secretaries to discuss and recommend the modalities for conducting AMUTA elections as per constitution in consultation with the chief election officer and honorary secretary within three days.

The decision has been made after taking note of the fact that the voters list has not been published and no notice of Annual General Body Meeting has been issued.

The notification noted: “The AMUTA elections scheduled on September 15 stand postponed in the light of the Vice Chancellor’s decision in exercise of powers vested in him under Section 19 (2) of the AMU Act, 1920.”

Meanwhile, the chief election officer, Prof Mujahid Beg, has resigned protesting interference in the functioning and disruption of the electoral process. “May God bless AMUTA and save democracy,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

The members of the questionable executive committee are tight lipped. But their supporters are openly accusing the hard liners for opposing a female as the head of the teachers’ body, as also inclusion for the first time of two non-Muslims.

A group says the VC has no jurisdictional powers to interfere with the elections of the teachers association. Another group feels democracy has to be restored and more than half a dozen bodies on the campus, including the students union, need to be democratised by holding elections.

A former president of the students’ union, Mohammad Nasim Ansari said, a woman can become the president of India, but not of AMUTA. The male dominated ecosystem of the university could not accept a lady professor as the head of the teachers’ union.

The noted historian prof S Chandni Bi was the only candidate to have filed a nomination for the president’s post.

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