Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vastanvi wins the battle, but with a caveat

Deoband, February 23, 2011

Defying escalating rumours of his imminent exit, the embattled Vice-Chancellor of Darul Uloom Deoband, Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi, on Wednesday managed to stay on in his post.

However, Mr. Vastanvi\'s long-term future continues to be in suspense, with the Majlis-e-Shura (governing council of the Islamic seminary) directing a three-member committee to look into the disturbances following his appointment — on the campus as well as outside it. The Shura also nominated Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani (Banarasi) to the vacant post of karguzar mohtamim (working Vice-Chancellor), with the caveat that Mr. Nomani will take over from Mr. Vastanvi in the event the committee ruled against the latter.

Mr. Vastvani himself read out a press statement issued on behalf of the Shura. The import of the statement was that though Mr. Vastanvi offered his resignation to the Shura, the governing council had rejected the offer, and instructed him to continue in his post. Asked how this squared with Shura\'s subsequent condition that his future depended on the verdict of the committee, Mr. Vastanvi said: "All I will say is that I am the VC and all the rumours and machinations against me could not remove me." He pointed out that the Shura had rejected his offer of resignation.

The peculiar nature of the Shura\'s decision appeared to have left both Mr. Vastanvi\'s followers and opponents unhappy, though each side was quick to proclaim victory. The anti-Vastanvi camp had been on a high through the morning, having psyched itself into believing that the Shura had already decided against the rector. The name of Mr. Nomani was circulated as the new man in. In the event, Mr. Vastanvi\'s opponents clung to the fact that Mr. Nomani had been named to the post of working VC with the possibility that he could eventually replace Mr. Vastanvi.

The Vastanvi fan club argued that he had retained his post against the toughest odds — goaded by his rivals, sections of the Urdu and the English press had mounted a vicious campaign against him, deliberately twisting his statements to suggest he was pro-Modi and spreading the canard that he had knowingly used Hindu religious symbols. The VC\'s supporters saw the Shura\'s decision as an astute balancing act aimed at neutralising his opponents. "The Shura could have simply removed him," they said.

The day began with Mr. Vastanvi presenting his defence before the 14-member Shura. He said his opponents had calculatedly vitiated the atmosphere on and off the campus through rumours and false propaganda. The rector asked the Shura to appoint a committee to investigate the truth of what really happened following his appointment. He concluded by saying that he had no interest in the VC\'s post and that he held the dignity of the Darul Uloom to be above his own self-interest.

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