The massive rally of over one lakh Muslims in Mumbai´s Azad Maidan on March 2 left Mumbaikars fuming at the obstruction and the early close of businesses and offices.
The Muslim rally against the Bush visit, Danish cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, Iran vote and all else secular last week in Mumbai was ostensibly a show of anger against the policies of the government. The Muslims protesters, whom this correspondent met up with during the rally were unequivocal about their feelings towards the American action against Iran´s nuclear programme as well as Iraq. ?Why have the Muslims not taken out such a rally against our own home-bred jehadi terrorists who kill and maim our own people everyday?´´ asked an office-goer, not wishing to be named. Two days later, Lashkar attacked the Varanasi temple.
Though the rally was about ?cautioning´ the UPA government, what the hard-core secular Congress has to answer more than these polemics is its relations with Sanjay Dutt, his terrorist acts and their approval of his involvement in the Mumbai bomb blasts which killed nearly 450 people. Sanjay Dutt had been embroiled in the case, which has been going on since 1993, but he was the star campaigner for the Congress in the latest bye-election in the north-west constituency in Mumbai where his sister Priya won the seat after the death of Sunil Dutt. Congress does not even have a fig leaf of lack of knowledge of Sanjay Dutt´s involvement. The secularists, who are crying out loud about politicisation of events like the Varanasi terrorist attack and every other bomb blasts, also have to answer about how the Congress managed to swing the Muslim vote in the bye-election projecting Sanjay Dutt as their campaigner.
?The secularists who condemned the BJP for having organised the peaceful bandh at Varanasi on March 9 over the Lashkar attack on Sankat Mochan temple refuse to ask how the Muslim rally in Mumbai, which closed business and caused hardship to office-goers, school children and working women in the heart of the city, pass their muster´´, said Sulochana Patil, a bank official working at Nariman Point.
Abu Salem, accused of masterminding the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, which until then were the worst urban terror attack, told the investigative agency that he had delivered three AK-56 rifles and cartridges to Sanjay Dutt. Salem´s lawyer Ashok Sarogi, however, said that his client had no idea that he was transporting weapons to Sanjay Dutt. Salem was apparently told that he was ?carrying a consignment of silver?. Conveniently, Salem has withdrawn the confession made to the CBI under the pretext that it was done under duress. Sanjay Dutt also withdrew his statement and four out of five independent witnesses turned hostile in the TADA court. History in the judicial courts repeats itself again and again. But the CBI is banking on the fact that the confessions made by Sanjay Dutt to the Mumbai police and those of Salem to the CBI resemble to the last word. And hence even if the accused retract their confessions it will convince the court that Sanjay Dutt and Abu Salem are both culpable.
Sanjay Dutt gave police the confession on April 26, 1993. He gave a statement before Deputy Commissioner of Police Krishnalal Bishnoi. This statement kept him in jail for two years (can the Congress hide from that fact, and still make him a star campaigner?). Sanjay Dutt admitted to meeting Dawood Ibrahim and his brother Anees in Dubai when Sanjay Dutt had gone to shoot for the film Yalgar. Sanjay Dutt also added in finer details that one day in January 1993, around 9 or 9:30 pm, Hanif and Samir came to ?my house along with a man by name Salem´´. But what is most striking is that the confession of Abu Salem to CBI reads almost the same?including the delivery of the weapons to Sanjay Dutt´s house, in a white Maruti van. Now there is, reported widely in the press, a statement by a Mumbai police constable stationed at Sanjay Dutt´s house which also tallies with the confessions of how firearms in a Maruti van reached Sanjay Dutt´s house.
Salem confessed that he, along with Magnum Video co-owner Samir Hingora and co-accused Baba Moosa Chohan, delivered three AK-56 rifles, hand grenades and ammunition at actor Sanjay Dutt´s Pali Hill residence just a week before the 1993 Mumbai blasts. The weapons and the ammunition were brought from Gujarat. Salem said, a few days later, he went to Dutt´s house to pick up some of the arms and ammunition.
This raises more questions that Organiser found repeatedly stated by people in Mumbai ? should the Election Commission not also debar election campaigners with criminal background from the election process? Second, have elections in Mumbai become as unruly, violent and murderous as in Bihar? Does a party campaigner with criminal background not intimidate and terrorise voters? Amen.