September 27, 2006
In the seventh Congress Chief Ministers conclave held at Nainital on September 23 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi once again expressed their concern over the harassment of Muslims in the process of anti-terrorism measures. This is the fourth time in two months that Prime Minister has addressed the issue.
While the Qaumi Awaz (September 24 and 25) confined itself to eulogising the conclave, and the Awam to simply covering UNI release on the issue without any comment whatsoever, a Hindustan Express story on September 24 laments that the Congress leaders’ concern contradicts the treatment meted out to Muslims in Congress-ruled States like Uttaranchal. The story alleged that Muslims are being selectively targeted under the direct stance of Chief Minister Narain Dutt Tiwari, who is dreaming of enjoying greener pastures in the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The Express story refers to two cases of Muslim harassment and torture in the State. One, in the immediate aftermath of Mumbai train blasts a group of foreign Muslim preachers associated with Tablighi Jamaat was harassed, detained and asked to go back forthwith. And the other, Maulana Masood Madani, who had been a Minister in the Tiwari cabinet till a few days ago when he tendered his resignation in protest against the injustices being done to the minorities, was on September 6 arrested, beaten and tortured by no less than the D.M. and S.S.P. of Dehradun. (Attempts were made to pull out three of his nails and as a result of the torture his eardrum was broken and his teeth went on bleeding for days together, and his body sustained several black patches.) The crime of Maulana Masood was that while addressing a gathering in the city he raised a voice against the issues confronting the Muslims in the State.
“In a State where talking of Muslim issues is too great a crime to invite police beating and where the bones and ribs of those raising voice against the atrocities are broken, Congress chairperson’s saying that no particular community was harassed in the name of combating terrorism gives way to a grotesque situation,” the story writes.
The Express on September 25 editorialised the Congress leaders’ shedding crocodile tears. It suggests: “In view of internal security the Government should launch an honest campaign to bring an end to the menace of terrorism…. But all the efforts made in this regard should be honest. But what has come to the fore as yet is that the Congress leaders, including the Prime Minister are only shedding crocodile tears. If it is not so then why despite the assurances made by the Prime Minister only Muslim youth have been detained in the process of investigations into the recent Mumbai and Malegaon blasts. Why after all no progress is being made in the investigations into the fake beard case? Doesn’t it prove that the Government and its various departments have taken for granted that only Muslims can carry out terrorist acts and that there is no role of Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena in them?”
On September 24 the Express, in an exclusive story, reports that Bajrang Dal activist Sanjay Choudhary, who had been arrested in the Parbhani blast case, was subjected to brain-mapping and narco-analysis, in which he confessed his hand both in the attack on Muhammadia mosque in Parbhani and in making bombs in the house of a retired engineer Raj Kondwar in Nanded. This accused was injured in the April 6 Nanded blasts. Other three persons injured in the Nanded blasts – Maruti Keshwagh, Yulesh Deshpandey and Gururaj Pandey – have been also subjected to brain-mapping and narco-analysis. According to Assistant Police Commissioner of Maharashtra, these accused told the A.T.S. that 15 days before their attack on Muhammadia mosque in the Rahmat Nagar area of Parbhani, they had gone there to take stock of the situation. They had stayed in the house of the maternal aunt of Gururaj near the mosque. And then on November 21, 2003 they threw bombs on the mosque right at the time of Jumatul Wida prayers, killing one person
named Abdus Samad and rendering 36 Muslim worshippers in the mosque injured. Then they succeeded in fleeing on motorcycles. The report adds that the Police will detain Gururaj’s maternal aunt, who is a school teacher in Parbhani, for questioning.
Another issue that made headlines in Urdu newspapers last week is academic polarisation of society. In view of the forthcoming Assembly elections, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mulayam Singh Yadav announced the decision to open medical, engineering and other technical colleges in the recently launched Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar University. On the other hand Minister of Culture Madhya Pradesh announced a plan to open two universities, reports the Express on September 27. Panchli Sanskrit University will be established in Ujjain while Sangeet University in Gawalior.
In a front-paged news item in the Akhbar-e-Mashriq (September 23) Uttar Pradesh Urdu Development Organisation sought clarification from Chief Minister Mulayam Singh and Minister for Urban Development Azam Khan whether the medium of instruction in the technical colleges to be opened in Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar University will be like that in Osmania University Hyderabad. The organisation expressed concern over the omission of the word ‘Urdu’ from the name of Jauhar University established to promote Urdu, Arabic and Persian. If the medium of instruction in medical, engineering, law, dental and IT colleges in the university is Urdu only then it will prove a milestone on the path of education and development of minorities.
On September 26 Urdu newspapers covered BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqwi dubbing Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar “anti-national”. “By establishing a university in the name of the greatest enemy of Vande Mataram, Mulayam Singh Yadav has given way to separatism,” Mr. Naqwi alleged, adding that Rampur stands in need of factories and not a university.
The Express (September 26) editorially criticised the temerity of Mr. Naqwi to call Maulana Jauhar “anti-national”.
Leaving the issue of punishment for disgracing and levelling allegation on freedom fighters to the judiciary, the Express editorial writes: “Unfortunately Mukhtar Abbas Naqwi belongs to a party which had nothing to do with the independence of the country… The sacrifice of Ali Brothers for the independence of India is unforgettable. Every patriot is aware of the trials and tribulations the two brothers, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali had to bear behind the bars for the independence of the country. Now if Mukhtar Abbas Naqwi is not in know of it then it is not his fault because he is associated with such a party which has dexterity in rewriting history and educating this fabricated history to the new generation. But if our new generation begins to call a towering leader like Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar “anti-national” it is the height of meanness… It is the urgent need of the hour to declare as rebel those who call freedom fighters ‘anti-national’.”
In a news item in the Inquilab (September 23) Janta Dal Secular supreme and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda sought public apology for the controversial statement made by the Minister for Education D.H. Shankrmurthi, a BJP man, who had called great freedom fighter Tipu Sultan an enemy of the Kannada language.