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2016-03-20 09:40:11

Muslim organizations’ failure to take clear stand on pro-Afzal Guru protests at JNU raises questions on Indian Muslims’ patriotism

It seems that a section of Muslims are tacitly supporting pro-Afzal Guru protests organized by JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and others on 9th February 2016. At least, the behavior of some important Muslim organizations as of now strongly suggests my fears.

Navaid Hamid, newly-elected President of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), recently issued a press statement on 19th February 2016, on the JNU episode. Apart from the tokenism condemnation of “the irresponsible sloganeering at JNU”, the statement has failed to clarify AIMMM’s stand whether it supports pro-Afzal Guru protests organized by one of the main organizers, Umar Khalid, a resident of Jamia Nagar and also son of Dr. Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, who is an influential member of AIMMM itself. According to the videos of the event (some of which were obviously doctored), Umar Khalid was seen playing a proactive role and prompting the gathering to raise slogans condemning the “judicial killing” of Parliament Attacks accused Afzal Guru and raising slogans supporting Kashmr secessionist movement.

Ever since Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested, while Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya have surrendered and are in police custody facing sedition charges.

It may be noted that Dr. S.Q.R. Ilyas is also Publisher and Chief Editor of Afkaar-e-Milli Urdu magazine. He was also Spokesperson of All India Muslim Personal Law Board. Dr. Ilyas is also a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and presently President of Welfare Party of India, a political wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

AIMMM President Navaid Hamid in his statement said: “The country is passing through an unprecedented crisis. Divisive forces are proactive to destroy the secular democratic fabric of the Indian society. Freedom of speech, right to dissent, and right to agitation and association, guaranteed as fundamental rights in the constitution are under threat. All dissenting voices of central Indian adivasis, dalit students, minorities, labour leaders, human right activists, anti-nuclear campaigners are being branded as anti-national. This brand of divisive nationalism is packaged with economic liberalism to the great disadvantage of landless peasantry, labourers, urban poor, dalits, minorities and socially marginalized castes. The state and its police is actively conniving with the troopers of this brand of nationalism to divert attention from the economic recession looming large, the slump in industrial production, lack of growth in agriculture leading to suicide of farmers and discontent among the students and youth. This state connivance with the right-wing ultra nationalist is one of the symptoms of rise of fascism and is extremely dangerous for the Indian society.

“While condemning the irresponsible sloganeering at JNU we reiterate that universities are meant for free flow of ideas, questioning the established norms and values, interrogation of meaning of equality and justice. We have already been concerned on the government stand on the minority character of Aligharh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia. That alongwith the happenings in Film and Television Institute, Pune, at the Hyderabad Central University and at JNU clearly indicate a pattern. Contrary to the clear judgments of the Supreme Court of India, sedition charges are being slapped on the brilliant patriotic student leaders to quell dissent.

“Therefore, AIMMM stands firmly to uphold Constitution, defend the rights guaranteed in the constitution, to preserve the diversity and to fight the sinister design of the ultra-nationalist troopers.  We demand that JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar be released and all those responsible for attack on media person and on the students and teachers in Patiala House court be arrested immediately.”

It is apparent now that while demanding the release of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and arrest of all those persons who attacked mediapersons, students and teachers in Patiala House Court, the AIMMM President in his statement has failed to condemn the organizing of pro-Afzal Guru protests in the first place, which culminated in seditious sloganeering and exceeded all limits and demanding “Bharat ki Barbaadi” (Destruction of India). 

The situation demanded that at least the Muslim organizations with which Dr. Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas is associated should have held a press conference separately or issued individual statements condemning the pro-Afzal Guru events, in which his son Umar Khalid is directly implicated.

The failure of Muslim organizations to act responsibly has put the entire Muslim community in India in the dock, with more reprisals and communal polarization taking place in the future. Muslim organizations should immediately clear their stand and avoid being seen with suspicion in the eyes of Muslims and people of India. Their actions will also lead in once again raising a question mark (as usual) on the patriotism of Indian Muslims as well.

Danish Ahmad Khan, currently based at New Delhi, is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper “IndianMuslimObserver.com”.

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