Deoband: Darul Uloom Deoband's Vice Chancellor Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi was on Sunday sacked for praising Narendra Modi five months after the reformist took over the reins of the prominent Islamic seminary.

His remarks on the Gujarat Chief Minister's development policies and that Muslims should forget the communal riots of 2002 and move on had raised the hackles of the conservatives. His powers were spliced and a three-member inquiry was appointed in February which gave its report on Sunday.

"Maulana Vastanvi has been removed from the post of Vice Chancellor by Majlis-e-Shoora (governing council) of the seminary," said Maulana Abdul Qasim Nomani, who was appointed as Acting Vice Chancellor during an emergent meeting of the Shoora on February 23.

Nomani, who is in his 60s, will be the new chief of the 145-year-old Islamic seminary, the country's largest.

A vote on the ouster of 60-year-old Vastanvi, who is an MBA with a Facebook page in his name, was held in a stormy meeting of the council. While opposing the report, Vastanvi demanded setting up of a new panel, but his plea was turned down by the Shoora.

Crying foul, Vastanvi said he was a victim of conspiracy. "This is injustice and a conspiracy against me." He alleged that the report was incomplete and he was removed from the post for opposing it.

The sacked vice-chancellor, who was born in Vastan village of south Gujarat and educated in a madrassa near Surat, said he will neither move court nor protest against the decision. Vastanvi said he will continue as a member of the Shoora. However, his supporters said they would press him to challenge the decision in the highest court.

Nomani said that there were differences among the 14 Shoora members present at the meeting out of the 18. One of the members walked out before the voting while Vastanvi did not cast his ballot. He received four votes in favour and eight against...

Vastanvi's removal a setback: BJP

Describing the sacking of Darul Uloom Vice Chancellor Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi as a
disappointment for all "secular forces", the BJP said he has been "tormented and victimised" for speaking the "truth" about Gujarat's growth under Narendra Modi.

"Removal of Vastanvi is a great disappointment for all secular forces. Though this is an internal matter of an organisation, it assumes serious connotations as the action taken is in the backdrop of the issue of development in Gujarat," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

The opposition party also took note of the fact that four members in the governing council supported Vastanvi.

"But it is most unfortunate that he was not removed on charges of corruption or incompetency or for that matter for moral turpitude but for speaking the truth. A truth that Gujarat has developed under Modi," Rudy said.

He insisted that the minorities in Gujarat had benefited from overall growth of the state under Modi's chief ministership.

"This fact has not been denied by the Planning Commission nor has it been discounted by any statistics nor denied by the people of Gujarat. But Vastanvi has been tormented and victimised for speaking the truth," Rudy said.

He maintained that this decision was not just a disappointment for the BJP but also for all those who feel academics should be above politics and religion.

"This is a major setback to the social and secular fabric of the country. One cannot deny that under the pioneering leadership of Modi, Gujarat has emerged as one of the most prosperous states," Rudy said.

(JPN/Agencies)