Kishanganj: Sir Syed Ahman Khan – renowned as the educationist, journalist and founder of the legendry Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh, had launched a historic ‘Aligarh Movement’ to establish the magnum opus university currently having around 30,000 enrolled students across dozens of faculties. Presently the Aligarh Muslim University is offering education from school level to higher classes inside its huge premises having residential facility for all sections of the society including Muslims and Non Muslims.
On Wednesday (October 12, 2011), the country witnessed the rise of a ‘Modern Aligarh Movement’ from Kishanganj, the north-eastern district of Bihar. The anti Bihar Government movement (agitation) organized for the establishment of AMU Special Centre in Kishanganj was joined by 3 to 4 lakh people. In response to Bihar government’s negligent attitude towards the matter, the protestors blocked the Kolkata – Guwahati rail route and National Highway No 31. Only after the nationwide media coverage and complaints of the travelers, the Bihar Government had shown some grace and promised to resolve the issue within one month through its representative, and the dharna ended midnight.
One of India’s most economically and educationally deprived district of India, Kishanganj is inhabited by peace loving simple people. Since the independence of India, the district of Kishanganj has hardly seen any type of development. Even people struggle for the basic necessities like proper road communication, electricity and health and sanitation. While India is developing at fact pace in metros and big cities, the residents of Kishanganj even today feel themselves in pre-independence era.
After the dark 15 year rule of Lalu Prasad Yadav, along with rest of Bihar the common people of this area also had some hope of development with the change of governance. Nitish Kumar, termed as ‘Vikas Purush’ (Development Man) succeeded in hitting the headlines of global media with stories of development in Bihar, and the NDA rule had been appreciated time and again. However, both the Nitish led NDA government and media forgot the dark side of Bihar’s development. Still the mass migration for education and employment were happening at a large scale, which brought forth the truth of self-proclaimed good governance of NDA in Bihar.
During the rule of NDA (Ist) in Bihar, on the guidelines of Union Ministry of HRD and approval of President of India, the Vice Chancellor of AMU (Aligarh Muslim University) had sent a proposal letter to Chief Minister of Bihar on November 26, 2008 to open a Special Centre in the state. In his proposal the Vice Chancellor of AMU Prof P.K.Abdul Azis has asked the Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to provide 250-300 acres of land free of cost for the centre and also mentioned some essentials as per University norms like 30 metre wide road connecting the campus with nearest state highway or national highway, and uninterrupted electricity and drinking water. Once Bihar Government would provide the land, the rest of the expanses like constructing the buildings inside the campus would be borne by the University and Central Government.
Logically, the Bihar Government should have accepted the proposal with high enthusiasm to improve the literacy rate in the state. Since, Bihar didn’t have any Central University till date, so this was other reason to welcome such mega project. The proposal of AMU was to offer education from school level to college level including professional courses. Besides providing education to the people of Bihar and other parts of India, the proposal of massive AMU campus was directing towards employment generation from low level caretaking staff to higher level. However, Bihar government didn’t send any reply to AMU VC on the proposal till September 2009. After that the AMU VC visited Kishanganj twice but the land transfer issue couldn’t be resolved because of Bihar Government careless attitude and internal politics.
Common people of Bihar were following all the development on the issue for past 3 years. When nothing happened to materialize the proposed AMU Special Centre in Kishanganj, a declaration to protest against the Bihar Government was taken in September 12, 2011 under the banner of Kishanganj Education Movement for AMU Centre supported by many committees including Delhi based AMU Centre Co-ordination Committee. A memorandum addressed to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar was submitted before District Magistrate Kishanganj to resolve the land transfer issue for the establishment of AMU Centre Kishanganj within 15 days. The activists for AMU Centre had clearly mentioned in the memorandum, if the government doesn’t resolve the issue and massive demonstration would happen in Kishanganj from October 12, 2011 onwards.
Meanwhile, apart from making illogical and baseless statements against the Central Government and AMU VC Prof Azis, the Bihar Government didn’t give any attention to the memorandum clearly mentioning the massive protest. The activists for AMU Special Centre Kishanganj organized awareness programmes in many parts of Seemanchal and requested people to gather in district headquarters of Kishanganj on October 12, 2011. The Delhi based AMU Centre Co-ordination Committee organized a National Conference on AMU Centre at India Islamic Cultural Centre on September 30, 2011 to provide the global attention to the matter.
Bihar Government has continued its apathetic attitude towards the proposed AMU Special Centre that resulted in grand dharn at Kishanganj on October 12, 2011. Around 3 – 4 lakh people from different parts of Bihar gathered in Kishanganj and blocked the Kolkata – Guwahati rail route and NH 31. The dharna went for full day and it was extended for indefinite period in the evening as the Bihar Government’s had not given any response. Around 10 pm, the national electronic media had flushed the news ticker with the tagline ‘Breaking News, more than 20 trains stuck on Guwahati route, protestors demand for AMU Centre in Kishanganj’. The news spread across the nation in a short while after 11 pm, and finally the leaders of the protest at around 11.30 pm announced that the Resident Commissioner of Purnia Division on behalf of Bihar Government has promised to resolve the issue within one month. The gathering of around 50,000 celebrated the historic moment of ‘AMU Movement’, and agreed to end the Dharna.
The one day dharna at Kishanganj had paralised the rail and road routes connecting north-east with rest of the country. Often referred to as the ‘Chicken Neck’, Kishanganj encompasses an important geographical and political place in India’s map. Still the people residing in the district and its nearby areas are facing several issues and deprived of basic amenities. Now it is the duty of Nitish Kumar to resolve the issue on immediate basis and provide the required land to AMU administration for establishment of a Special Centre. If Nitish Kumar fails to meet his promise, the activists are committed to intensify the protest and bring their voice to state capital Bihar and national capital New Delhi for their rights.