Darul Uloom to decide fate of VC Vastanvi tomorrow

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Deoband (UP), Feb 22 (PTI) The top clergy of DarulUloom will meet here tomorrow to decide the fate of seminary''sVice-Chancellor Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, who stirreda controversy by praising Gujarat Chief Minister NarendraModi, amid speculation that he may be asked to quit.

The faction-ridden Majlis-e-Soora or governing councilof Darul Uloom will hold the meeting to decide on the key postfollowing the controversy, the first of its kind in thehistory of the seminary, sources said.

They said the 18-member council has two options --either it could allow Vastanvi to continue with a gag order orask him to step down.

"Vastanvi is likely to be asked to step down to builda consensus on the new vice-chancellor of Darul Uloom," asource with close links to council members told PTI.

He said two names doing the rounds are that of MaulanaMufti Abul Qasim Nomani, who is also a member of the counciland held the top job for a month after the death of longtimeVC Maulana Marghub Rehman last year. The other name is MaulanaQamruddin, who is based in Deoband.

Vastanvi, who hails from Gujarat and has a MBA degree,was elected VC on January 10. But soon after his appointmenthe triggered a controversy with his remarks praising Modi''srule and his development policy.

He reportedly said that Muslims should forget thecommunal riots of 2002 and move on and that the community didnot face discrimination in Gujarat.

Nomani, in his 60s, runs a madarsa in Varanasi. With anon-controversial image, he is a front-runner for the post,the sources said.

However, few in the council feel that Vastanvi''sremoval may send out a wrong signal and fresh demand can beraised to drop him from the council as well.

"A question can be raised by a section of people thatif a person fails to be the VC what right he has to stay onthe council," the sources said.

Hundreds of students in the seminary remain divided onthe issue. The teachers backing Vastanvi have threatened to goon strike if he is removed from the position.

In the second week of February, clashes broke outinside the seminary between pro- and anti-Vastanvi groups,leaving several people injured.

Following the clashes, prohibitory orders wereenforced by authorities under Section 144 of CrPC to ensurepeace in the sensitive town.

Darul Uloom has banned media persons from entering itspremises till February 23. The reason given was that presenceof media persons was affecting students'' preparations for theupcoming examinations.

"This step has been taken to avoid the controversyaffecting students busy preparing for their examinationsbeginning February 26," Deputy Vice Chancellor Maulana AbdulKhalique said.

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