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Friday, August 28, 2009

AMU V-C hits back, suspends reader

Publication: Times Of India Lucknow; Date: Aug 28, 2009; Section: Front Page; Page: 1

Manjari Mishra, TNN 28 August 2009, 05:19am IST: LUCKNOW: As the fact-finding committee, appointed by the Centre visited Aligarh Muslim University last week to probe charges of financial and procedural irregularities committed during the tenure of the vice chancellor PK Abdul Azis, another high drama unfolded in the campus.

On Wednesday, Azis suspended --his first suspension incidentally --Tariq Islam, a reader in the department of philosophy and a noted RTI activist who played a lead role in collecting incriminating evidence which finally landed Azis in a spot. And even as the university authorities deny any link, Islam cries foul and terms the action an arm-twisting tactic by the VC, hell bent on settling scores.

Interestingly a 27-year-old case of suspected fake marksheet has come back to haunt Islam. The VC office claims Islam misrepresented his marks obtained in the graduation course in 1982 at the London Metropolitan University, and must pay for the fraud.

Talking to TOI, Dr Rahat Abrar, university’s PRO, said that the reader got merely 47 percent marks and claimed his percentage to be 56. The fraud was discovered when Peter Fisher, the records and compliance officer of London Metropolitan University, clarified the matter on 16-2-2009 upon an inquiry made by the VC’s office, he said.

Islam calls "this sudden burst of over enthusiasm by the VC’s office" nothing but a plot to nail him for having dared an influential lobby. The issue had surfaced twice earlier, once in 1984 and then in 1999, when selection committees refused to regularise my appointment, he told TOI. The matter was taken to the Supreme Court which finally applied the doctrine of estoppled and put the controversy to rest for all times to come, he claimed.

Unearthing the issue once again, therefore, reeks of vile motive, he complained. Significantly, the university approached London Metropolitan University in February 2009 when members of the university executive council had raised the banner of revolt against the VC for his alleged malpractice. The allegations ranged from payment of his annual income tax from the university funds to refurnishing his now fully air conditioned house, again at the university’s expense and also ordering his daily breakfast, lunch and dinner from the university guest house. That the rebel group of seven EC members relied heavily on Islam for the information, is a well-known fact. It is not diffcult to put two and two together, he said.

Islam also calls the suspension order extremely vague and totally illegal, It was neither preceded by any show cause notice nor was he given any opportunity to plead his case. The three-page letter merely announced the VC’s decision to put him under suspension for gross irregularities, without actually spelling out the details. "So I am still waiting to be enlightened about what actually went wrong," he said.

So what accounted for the renewed interest in the fake marksheet case. Abrar claimed the VC’s office had been receiving repeated complaints about Islam’s illegal appointment. He failed to name any specific complainant when questioned. The PRO hotly denied that Islam was paying for locking horns with Azis. It is just an administrative action, he stresed.

The development has led to much tension on the campus as both camps are busy lobbying support and the students are forced to watch senior faculty members washing the dirty linen in public.

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