RIYADH: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s close aide Zafar Sareshwala, who is also the chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) in Hyderabad, said Indian Muslim community must get itself involved in a political dialogue with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to find an amicable solution to its problems.
Addressing a conference on “Educational Empowerment of Indian Muslims — Challenges and Future Road Map” organized here by the Riyadh chapter of the India Islamic Cultural Center (IICC) on Thursday, Sareshwala said: “Over the years, we have been used by various political parties as a vote bank, but they failed to deliver in redressing our grievances.”
He added that these secular parties compounded difficulties for the community by banking on a legal rather than a dialogical approach to settle religious disputes as manifested in the Babri Mosque issue and minority character of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
“Instead of involving in a debate that polarize the political atmosphere, it is fruitful to involve in dialogue with the Modi government and find an amicable solution to our important issues,” said Sareshwala.
He noted that on many issues, “the prime minister is not fully aware of the facts and we need to tell our side of the story through constructive dialogue.”
Referring to the AMU’s minority character, he said that after the IICC meet in Dubai, “I discussed the issue with the prime minister and explained to him the story as to how and why its founder, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, established the institution and he was convinced that the 19th century reformer set up the institution for Indian Muslims.”
Sareshwala also assured to stand with the great cause of restoring AMU’s minority character.
He said, “There are people involved in negative campaign against me saying, I am a Modi man. Let me tell you the fact that neither I am a member of the BJP nor have interest in the ministry. In fact, it was my petition to the State Department, acting on which, the US refused visa to Narendra Modi for several years. But then I realized that such things can have temporary impact. Hence, I decided to meet him when he was coming to Britain for the Vibrant Gujarat summit and now I am friendly with him and in a position to solve problems related to the Muslim community.”
Speaking on the occasion, Abul Hasan Siddiqui, former pro-vice chancellor of AMU, highlighted the historic aspects of AMU’s minority character, while NRI businessman Rashid Ali Sheikh urged Sareshwala to communicate with the government to ensure inclusive growth by putting aside divisive elements.
Prominent NRI philanthropist Nadeem Tarin said, “There might be ideological differences, yet we can work together on common agenda, which is development for all irrespective of differences based on caste, creed and gender.”
IICC convener Murshid Kamal called for educational empowerment of Indian Muslims. Other keynote speakers and guests included senior journalist Ghazanfar Ali Khan and community leaders Qamruddin Jugnu, Mohammed Quaiser, Akhtarul Islam Siddiqui, Anisur Rahman, Zaki Haider, Mohammad Rahbar, Zakir Aazmi and Syed Muneer.