BJP’s promise of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ should also mean ‘Musalmaanon ka bhi Saath, Musalmaanon ka bhi Vikas’
by Sudheendra Kulkarni
I participated in a dharna yesterday at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, to protest against the declared move by the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra to encroach on the land belonging to Ismail Yusuf College in Jogeshwari under the pretext of establishing the National Law University and an educational hub there. The dharna was organised by the Ismail Yusuf College Campus Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, with which I am closely associated since its inception.
As I have mentioned in my previous posts, this land (120 acres originally, but now reduced to 54 acres due to large-scale encroachments permitted by successive governments) does not belong to the government. It was purchased out of an endowment (waqf) of Rs 8 lakh donated by a Muslim philanthropist Sir Yusuf Ismail in 1914 with the specific and explicitly stated objective of promoting higher education among Muslims.
The Sangharsh Samiti’s demands are: 1) No more encroachment on Ismail Yusuf College campus. Existing encroachments should be removed. We welcome establishment of the National Law University in Mumbai, but the government should find suitable land for it elsewhere in the city. 2) Ismail Yusuf College should be declared a Minority Educational Institution under Article 30 (1) of the Indian Constitution. 3) The land belonging to Ismail Yusuf College should be given to a suitable Muslim educational trust to establish a world-class university promoting higher, technical and professional education among primarily (though not exclusively) for needy sections of the Muslim community. In my speech at the dharna, I said that if the BJP governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra are really sincere about their pre-election promise of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas’, they should demonstrate that they also care for ‘Musalmaanon ka Saath, Musalmaanon ka Vikas’, BJP’s attitude and decision in the case of Ismail Yusuf College present a test case. All the participants in the dharna pledged to intensify the struggle if the Maharashtra Government fails to accept our just demands.