High Court restrains UP Government from withdrawing cases against Muslim terrorists
Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey from Lucknow
Akhilesh Yadav government of the Samajwadi Party faced serious embarrassment after the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court rapped it on its move to withdraw cases against terror accused. A bench of Justice Ashok Pal Singh, Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice Ajay Lamba, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a local advocate Ranjana Agnihotri, said the move can only be taken forward with the sanction of the Union government. The petitioner had alleged that the Akhilesh Yadav government had initiated the move to appease the Muslims.
The state government had earlier this year initiated a process to withdraw terror charges levelled against 19 Muslim youth for their alleged role in serial blasts in courts at Faizabad, Lucknow and Gorakhpur. The Samajwadi Party in its poll manifesto for the 2012 state assembly polls had also promised to release such terror accused presuming they were innocent.
Reacting sharply, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the decision of whether the accused were guilty or not cannot be taken by the government and should be left to the judiciary. “This is a tight slap on the face of the state government which works 24×7 to appease the Muslims for its narrow vote bank politics,” BJP state spokesman Chandra Mohan said.
Earlier, the Allahabad High Court stayed the state government’s order to withdraw cases against persons accused of terrorist activities, while referring the matter to a larger bench. The order for withdrawing the cases against terrorism accused shall be kept in abeyance, the court had said. The petitioner had sought direction for quashing an order issued by the Samajwadi Party government, led by Akhilesh Yadav, son of SP supremo Mulayam Singh, to withdraw cases against persons accused of terrorist activities, including bomb blasts in public places. Adding a Constitutional twist to their case, the petitioners have also challenged the validity of Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which deals with provisions for withdrawing cases.
The PIL challenged the UP government’s decision to withdraw terror cases against those accused in the 2007 serial blasts in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad, in which 16 people were killed and more than 60 were injured. The PIL stated that in all terror cases, the government granted sanction for prosecution of the accused on the basis of material collected by the investigating agencies, adding that hence the government cannot recall, review or nullify the sanction orders by proceeding to withdraw these cases. It further said that the accused were also booked under central legislations like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Arms Act and Explosives Act.
The vacation bench in Allahabad referred the matter to a larger bench because earlier, a division bench of the high court had dismissed a similar petition. In case of a difference of opinion in a matter between the two division benches of the high court, the bench hearing the matter can pass an interim order and refer the case to a larger bench.
It may be mentioned that the Muslims built pressure on the basis of the report of what is known as the Nimesh Commission, which found discrepancies in arrests of Tariq Qasmi and Khalid Mujahid. The commission was constituted by BSP government, once again, to appease the Muslim community. The Akhilesh government has also decided to make this report public and take action on it.
One of the terror accused Mujahid died in police custody on 18 May. Various social and Muslim organisations had alleged foul play in Mujahid’s death, forcing government to refer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Thereafter, the state government then promulgated an order to withdraw cases against other Muslim youths booked for terror in different parts of the state.
An FIR has been lodged against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen for allegedly hurting religious sentiments following a complaint by a prominent Muslim cleric of Uttar Pradesh, a charge which the author said shocked her. The case was lodged at Kotwali police station by Hasan Raza Khan Noori Miyan, son of the ‘sajjadanasheen’ of Dargah-e -Ala Hazrat Maulana Subhan Raza Khan Subhani Miyan, who objected to certain tweets by Nasreen against clerics on November 6.
In the complaint, it was alleged that with her remarks against clerics on Twitter the writer had hurt the feelings of the Muslim community. Noori Miyan said a fatwa has been issued in the light of Hadees and Quran. It was demanded that the passport of the writer should be seized and she should be arrested.
Taslima said she was shocked to hear about the FIR as she had only spoken the truth. “I do not know what wrong have I done with those tweets. I only spoke the truth and once again they are after me,” she told PTI. “I am shocked to hear this. How can this happen in a democratic country like India where the Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech and expression,” wondered the 51-year-old author who was forced to flee from Bangladesh after threats from fundamentalists for hurting religious sentiments.
After Arvind Kejriwal sought support for his Aam Aadmi Party from controversial UP cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan, Taslima had criticised the meeting on Twitter. In 2007, the Maulana had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh on the author’s head if New Delhi did not restrict her entry to the country. Following violent protests over renewal of her visa later on, she was bundled out of Kolkata by the authorities to Delhi.
Noting that her freedom of speech and expression has always been in danger, the author said, “Fundamentalists do not believe in human rights and so I am never allowed to speak even the truth.” She has been in news for her books like Lajja and Dwikhandito.
Deoband clerics accept Modi factor, mull change in strategy for LS polls
Surendra Singhal in Deoband
The spectacular victory of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan has added to the confusion of the Muslim clerics of Deoband who project themselves as champions of Muslims’ cause. They feel that this victory was due to charismatic personality of Narendra Modi. At the same time they have started assessing the impact of this victory on the politics of Uttar Pradesh with highest number of LS seats. It is most likely that with the changing situation, the Muslims might change their strategy vis-à-vis ensuing Lok Sabha elections.
75-year-old Maulana Abdullah Javed, who is known and admired for his scholarship and understanding of Muslim thinking, credits this victory of BJP solely to Narendra Modi. He is of the view that Modi is trying to present his image as that of all inclusive Atal Behari Vajpayee. He feels that the charismatic personality of Narendra Modi fetched this commendable victory for the BJP. The way Delhi voters reposed their faith in Kejriwal’s AAP, similarly, the voters in north India have been attracted to BJP due to the magic spell of Modi. The strategy adopted by BJP leadership in using Modi proved successful, he feels. It has become easy for the observers to guess about the possible outcome of 2014 LS polls. He says that BJP would not engage itself against the regional parties in 2014. The SP is fast losing its public support base and popularity in UP and with this the Muslim vote might go to BSP depending upon the moves BSP Supremo Mayavati would make.
Uttar Pradesh Muslim Majlis vice president and spokesman and prominent Urdu writer Badar Kazmi, who is also strong proponent of dialogue with BJP, said that he had already expressed that the Jats and Muslims were supporting Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan and the BJP would bounce back defeating Ashok Gahlot. However, the fundamentalist Muslim leaders were not ready to accept his prophecy. But the results of Rajasthan proved that he was right. Two of the four Muslim candidates of the BJP were elected while all the 15 Muslims contesting on Congress ticket lost. Badar Kazmi said that the people wanted change and therefore, it was destined for the Congress to get defeated. In such a scenario, the BJP would be the only alternative at the national level. He opined that Muslims would prefer a new alternative in place of SP and Congress.
In the present situation two streams of Deobandi school are at work. One is led by National President of Jamiyat Ulma-e-Hind Maulana Ashrad Madani of Deoband. He is known as stark anti-Modi. Because of his opposition the former Vice-Chancellor of Darul-Ulum Deoband Maulana Gulam Mohd Vastavani had to resign. Maulana Madani belongs to Congress school and has good relations with Sonia Gandhi. At the same time he is admirer of Mulayam Singh. He depended a lot on him for restoring peace in Muzaffarnagar after the violence. Mulayam might try to get his support for Lok Sabha elections. Agra IGP Ashutosh Pandey had secret meetings with Maulana Ashrad Madani twice.
The other faction is led by Maulana Mehood Madani who is a believer in coordination and soft approach. Before the elections he toured a number of places in Rajasthan criticizing Ashok Gahlot government as anti-Muslim.