Protests have broken out at the Jawaharlal Nehru University after the Centre said on Thursday it has decided to discontinue the Maulana Azad National Fellowship, a scholarship for students from minority communities, from this academic year.
Union Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani said that the decision was taken as the fellowship overlapped with other schemes.
On Saturday, the Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union called a protest seeking the repeal of Centre’s Thursday order. The protest was held at the Sabarmati Dhaba located inside the campus where students shouted slogans denouncing the move.
“We are protesting because the discontinuation of scholarship is an attack on the education of minority students,” a student told Scroll.in. “Muslims and other minorities are already lagging behind and this government does not want them to progress.”
The students’ union has called for another protest on December 12.
Kasim, a member of All India Students’ Association affiliated to the Communist Party of India Liberation, called the the Narendra Modi government’s policies as “anti minority and anti-student”. He urged the government to restore the scholarship schemes.
All India Students’ Association had taken out a separate protest at the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Friday. The body has also called for another protest on December 12.
The Maulana Azad National Fellowship was launched in 2009. It provided financial assistance to students from six notified minority communities – Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Parsis and Sikhs – to pursue MPhil and PhD.
The scheme was launched as part of measures to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, which studied the socio-economic condition of Muslims in India.
Congress MP TN Prathapan, who had asked Irani about the scholarship in the Lok Sabha, has said he will raise the matter in Parliament.
“This is injustice,” he said. “A number of researchers will lose their chance to study further by this step.”
National Students Union’s Jamia Millia Islamia president NS Abdul Hameed said the move will adversely affect Muslim, Sikh and Christian students who are not considered as Other Backward Classes in some states.