The recent controversy whipped up by Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) alleged suggestion to have a course on ‘Islamic Terrorism’ in its proposal for setting up a Centre for National Security Studies appears to have simmered down a little with JNU writing to the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) that no such course was advanced at its academic council meeting.
According to DMC chairman Zafarul Islam Khan, JNU also offered the DMC with a copy of the minutes of the 145th Academic Council meeting on May 18, where the concept paper on the proposed ‘Centre for National Security Studies’ was placed for discussion.
Khan reported that the Registrar Pramod Kumar had said: “there was no course on ‘Islamic terror’ proposed in the academic council.” However, he added that, contrary to the Registrar’s statement, the concept paper does actually include ‘Islamic terrorism’ as part of the ‘key areas’ on which the proposed centre will research before the courses are set in motion. This misleading move is a cause for concern, amid allegations of propagating communalism by setting up such a course.
The proposed course on ‘Islamic Terrorism’ had provoked umbrage from various quarters, including the Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union (AMUSU) and the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU), not to mention multiple members of the JNU faculty. The JNU Academic Council was lambasted by these parties for tainting university education with communalism by attempting to endorse the Hindutva agenda of the ruling dispensation, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party. It was argued that a course on Islamic terrorism would harm India’s secular fabric by making terrorist activity seem essentially Islamic in character. This would ensure that instances of non-Islamist terrorism, like Hindutva terrorism, Bodo terrorism, and Ulfa terrorism were brushed under the carpet: a not-so-subtle advancement of the Hindu nationalist desire to demonize Islam and Muslim people, in accordance with what Irshad Ahmad, President, Old Boys Association AMU, Delhi called “the conspiracy of the West to associate Islam with terrorism.”
AMUSU had earlier written to the Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar, requesting that he ask the JNU administration to scrap the proposal. “It is wrong to associate terrorism with a particular religion; it questions India’s secular character. It is an agenda to break India and highly regrettable that a prominent university is being used to implement the agenda. Why research and debate cannot be done on terrorism instead of targeting a particular religion,” AMUSU president Maskoor Ahmad Usmani told India Today.
“The commission has written back to JNU saying the proposed Centre is a good initiative and the country needs it but the introduction of ‘Islamic terrorism’ as a subject of research and teaching at the Centre is ‘flawed’ and will ‘deteriorate’ the communal atmosphere on the campus and beyond, and will create wrong notions about Muslims,” said the DMC Chairman, Mr. Khan.
He also said that JNU has been advised to replace ‘Islamic terrorism’ with ‘religious terrorism’ as a subject of study, so as to ensure a fair representation of religious terror worldwide.