Aligarh Alumni Association PO Box 1877, Ellicott City MD 21041


January 2020

AAA-DC – January 2020
Trustees: Mohammad Rashid (Chair), Aisha Khan, Abdullah Abdullah, Fazal Khan, Masood Farshori
Exec.Council: Razi Raziuddin (President), Wazir Qadri (Treasurer), Mohsin Khan (Secretary)
AMU Centenary Celebrations: The AAA-DC is planning to celebrate this year the centenary of the formal transition of the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College to the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) which occurred on September 9, 1920. It was the culmination of the dream of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who founded the Madrasat ul uloom, (MAO College) on May 24, 1875 to educate the poor and disadvantaged in India. The classes of the nascent college started in a modest Bungalow near the Union Club.
In time, the MAO College evolved into a vibrant and highly respected national institution of learning. A movement to upgrade the college to a university was started in 1910, led by Sir Agha Khan and Nawab Mohsin ul Mulk. After much negotiations with the Viceroy and the British Indian Government about the name of the university and the extent of its jurisdiction, the University was inaugurated amidst much jubilation and celebrations at Aligarh. Her Highness Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum of Bhopal was nominated as the first Chancellor and Maharaja Sir Mohammad Ali Khan of Mahmoodabad as the first Vice Chancellor of the new University. Details of the centenary celebration will be forthcoming as the plans advance.
Wedding: The marriage of Ms. Zarish Akbar, daughter of Dr. Mohammed and Arjumand Akbar, with Dr. Muhammad Maaz was solemnized on January 1, 2020. The reception at Waterford Receptions, Springfield, VA, was attended by many Aligarians and other family friends. Dr. Akbar is a past president and active member AAA-DC. Best wishes from the AAA-DC to the newlyweds for a long and happy married life.
New Arrival: Mr. Afzal Usmani and Mrs. Asma Khan were blessed with the birth of a new baby boy “Ahmad Shafi Usmani” on 19th December 2019 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Washington Medical Center. Congratulations to the parents on behalf of the AAA-DC community. Afzal Usmani is the current president-elect of the AAA-DC.
Police Brutality at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU): The Aligarh Alumni Association-DC (AAA-DC) received some distressing news of police intrusion into the University campus and atrocities committed against students on the night of December 15, 2019. The crime? The students were peacefully protesting the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, that specifically excluded Muslim refugees from receiving Indian citizenship.

A team of lawyers, citizens, journalists and human-right’s activists, concerned about the reports of police excesses, visited the University on December 17, 2019, to authenticate the allegations. Led by an eminent human-right’s activist, Harsh Mander, the Commission interviewed scores of students, faculty and administrators. It reported “that indiscriminate actions by the UP police and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) left many of the students with shattered bones, grave injuries, deep bruises and severe psychological trauma.” They also heard accusations of police and RAF chasing the students, firing teargas shells, stun grenades and bullets. Worse, the police stopped medical assistance from reaching the injured, even assaulting an ambulance driver. Doctors and ambulances were refused access to assist the injured.

Much of the student and faculty anger was directed at the vice chancellor, himself an alumnus, and the Registrar, a member of the Indian Police Service on temporary assignment duty, who reportedly called the police and rendered no help to their own students under police attack. The University has been closed since the demonstrations but will reopen gradually in phases from January 12 to 24, 2020.

The AMU is not the only institution of learning that has been racked by student protest. A number of other institutions have had the same or worst experiences. It is a cause of great concern, however, that universities, the bastions of freedom of thought, learning and scholarship where the future leaders of the country are produced, should be subjected to such violence. Yet, it is heartening to note that students at a number of universities came out and expressed their solidarity with their fellow students at those universities, especially in Delhi and UP, that have been victims of police atrocities.

My memories of life at Minto Circle

Editor’s Note: My reminiscences in the last issue of the Newsletter about life in the Muslim University High School (Minto Circle) some seven decades ago, sparked the memories of other alumni and prompted at least one to write about his own experiences. In the following paragraph, Dr. Syed Naseem, a distinguished alumnus of AMU, writes about his days at the Minto Circle, now renamed, Syedna Tahir Saifuddin School.

Dr. Syed Naseem: My father, an Aligarian, settled in Aligarh after his retirement for the sake of his children’s education. I started my studies at AMU School in the 2nd grade and completed a Ph.D. from AMU (1952-1970). I am pleased to say that throughout my career, I secured first divisions in all examinations, including high school. My certificates and degrees were signed by four different vice-chancellors: Colonel Bashir Husain Zaidi (High School and pre-University), Badaruddin Tayyabji (BSc), Ali Yawar Jung (MSc), and Professor Mohammad Abdul Aleem (Doctorate degree).

I am a proud alumnus of AMU Minto Circle School, which in my days attracted students mostly from elite, affluent families, following the pattern set by private schools in the US and England. Some of the brightest, most prominent people I know went to Minto Circle. I once met the former Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari Sahib in Aligarh and asked him to recall his days at Minto Circle. “Everything I am, I owe it to Minto Circle,” he replied.

My teachers were mostly talented people; some were strict disciplinarians, and all had distinct personalities. I remember Ahsan Haider Josh Sahib, my neighbor in Dodhpur, who was the brother of Mrs. Abida Fakharuddin Ahmad, wife of the one-time president of India. He was our headmaster and taught me English. I also remember Alam Bukhsh Sahib who taught us mathematics and was a little merciless in meting out punishment. I fondly remember the rather lean and tall Waqi Sahib, much liked not only for his superb lectures on biology, chemistry, and physics, but also his collegial and affable attitude. My Urdu teacher, Mahmood Hasan Sahib, encouraged me to actively participate in school Baitbazi.

Whenever there was a contest of Urdu poetry at the University, I and Javed Akhtar (Bollywood), represented the school, and we won at least consolation prizes. My class-teacher was Ishtiaq Mohammad Khan. He rendered the Majaz’s Nazam on Aligarh into AMU Tarana. Both Ayub Khan and Nawab Liaquat Ali Khan, former president and prime minister, respectively, of Pakistan were the alumni of the school. In sports, luminaries, such as the Nawab of Pataudi, Lala Amarnath (India’s first Test captain), Syed Mushtaq Ali (cricket test player) and Zafar Iqbal (Indian hockey captain), at one time played on the Minto Circle’s sport teams. Others, Javed Akhtar, Naseeruddin Shah, Talat Mahmood, Saeed Jaffrey and Murad distinguished themselves in various fields–arts, sports and movies. Similarly, some of those who later rose in life to become university vice chancellors, bureaucrats, academicians, and writers were also products of Minto Circle.

Overall, Minto Circle offered students an excellent education and enjoyable life experience at a formative and pivotal phase of their lives. After leaving the school, we discovered that the quality of life we enjoyed at Minto Circle could never be duplicated elsewhere.

Syed Amir (Editor)                                                                   Khurshid Usmani (Web)
Razi Raziuddin (President)                                      Mohammad Rashid (Chairperson) donate to AAA each time you shop. Click on the right to donate.
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