Maulana Azad National Urdu University
It is indeed surprising that in J&K, where the state language is Urdu for over a century is not endowed with an Urdu university. The state thus lacks the grounding which could lend substance to its official language. Given the apathy with which the language is treated, it is not surprising that it is dwindling by the day. Instead, some effort to keep it afloat is put in distant southern states, where it is not the official language. Hyderabad based Maulana Azad National Urdu university is one such institute, apart from some worthwhile effort in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In the Hindi heartland, despite efforts to ease it out, the language holds because of its rich and flavorful literary treasure. Other home grown language pale in comparison, despite money put in to nurture them.
In 2013, Urdu lovers were heartened, as foundation stone was laid for a satellite campus of Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Budgam. The foundation stone was laid by the then Union HRD minister of state—MM Palam Raju and former CM—Omar Abdullah. One hundred kanals of state land were provided to the campus. Four kanals of duly paid private land were acquired, making it a total of 104 Kanals. Funds to the tune of 3.5 crores were allocated for erecting the campus wall, making the entrance gate, and building the guard room. These funds have to be utilized by March 2019, as reported widely in the local media. To expedite the works, and save the funds from lapsing, the land was re-surveyed a few days back. Shockingly, 104 kanals had shrunk to 70 kanals, due to encroachment. Budgam district administration seems to have totally failed to check the intrusion into campus land. It was confirmed by Regional Director cum In-charge satellite campus—Dr. Ajaz Ashraf, while communicating with news agency—UNI. It is alleged that authorities instead of stopping the encroachment by influential people, show a lack of interest.
The buck does not stop there, there is much more to it. It is related that behind the land allotted to the satellite campus, there is grazing land, as also some Awqaf (religious endowment) land, measuring about 4 kanals. This is creating problems, as apart from locally influential people, religious authorities are also interested. This is weighing against the campus taking off, as the authorities are being pressed to provide a 12 foot corridor to access the land behind the campus. The illogical demand constitutes a gross interference in an educational campus, where apart from routine curricular activity; accommodation would have to be provided for hostellers. Besides any other activity other than curricular and campus related would be uncalled for. The district administration, in fact the government needs to awaken and tackle the grim situation, wherein an educational enterprise is being held hostage to private interests.
The religious authorities holding the endowment land in the back of the campus need to consider some hard facts before putting any hurdles in working out the campus. Urdu apart from highly prized literary value provides the grounding of Islamic theological literature. Most of the works barring a few exceptions in Indo-Pak subcontinent are in Urdu. It could be said that Urdu forms the bedrock of Islamic lore in the subcontinent. Hence any religious authority or a person of substance in the Islamic realm should have an added interest in an Urdu university in the valley. It could provide grounding for substantial scholarship and advances in Islamic theological works. It is a much needed scholarly pursuit to minimize the outfall of the sectarian divide, which affects the society adversely. The divide is deepening by the day, as scholarly works to heal it are lacking. Instead, there is lot of competing input to widen the existent gulf. We need institutional buildup to produce Islamic scholars of substance. And, Urdu university could be one such institution.
Kashmir valley as such is deprived of a higher educational institute catering to Urdu precisely. And, the bitter truth stands despite Urdu being the official state language. As it stands, the language is being treated as an orphan, with none in the corridors of power standing for it. Apart from lack of official patronage, societal push is also missing. The online newspaper 'Print' carried an article on December, the 27th related to what Zafar Sareshwala said to journalist Fatima Aslam Khan. Before relating Zafar Sareshwala's take, it may be noted that he is the former Vice Chancellor of Maulana Azad Urdu University. He runs an organization called 'Taleem-o-Tarbiyat'. He recounts that to grace his organization's event; he would invite top BJP leadership, which included Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Piyush Goyal and many more. It resulted in many BJP-ruled states agreeing to give land to Maulana Azad National Urdu University for building campuses. Zafar Sareshwala rightly concludes that it ultimately benefit Muslims. The conclusion should make us wise vis-à-vis the societal effort that needs to be put in to get afloat the campus of Urdu university in Budgam. And since such an effort, as Zafar Sareshwala says is going to benefit Muslims, Muslim organizations and community leaders should take the lead in culminating the effort that has been put in to kick-start it.
Community leaders have to take the lead in pressing the official quarters to remove the hurdles that are coming in the way of utilizing the funds already allocated in erecting the wall so as to clearly demarcate the area. And, it should entail walling the entire 104 kanals meant for the campus. The encroachments should be identified and the land recovered. It may also be made clear that no access would be provided through the campus, as it would tell upon the privacy of high institute of learning. The campus can in no case be a thoroughfare. It goes against the pursuit of scholarship. Places of learning need to be sanctified, as scholarship is a sacred enterprise. High or low, everyone may register it.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]