The growing mistrust in the Muslim community against the ruling Congress spilled over on the streets of New Delhi [Images] last Thursday when over 1,000 residents of Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh [Images], protested against the Batla House encounter. While the police and the Centre maintain that the youths killed in the encounter were terrorists, leaders of the Muslim community claim that the two youths from Azamgarh were killed to shield then home minister Shivraj Patil [Images].
Ulema Council Chairman Maulana Amir Rashadi, whose son Talha Amir was picked up by the police only to be released later, had organised the trip from Azamgarh to Delhi. He met Home Minister P Chidambaram [Images] and submitted a memorandum on the issue.
Rashadi spoke to rediff.com's Krishnakumar P about the need to probe the real circumstances behind the Batla House encounter and Mumbai [Images] Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare's [Images] death on November 26.
What were your demands to the home minister?
We submitted five demands to the home minister. They were: Rehabilitate the youngsters who were falsely implicated in terrorism cases, punish the policemen responsible for their arrest, order a judicial probe into the Batla House encounter, review the new anti-terror laws which give the police sweeping powers like the right to detain a person without any charges and revisit the cases of people arrested on false charges in the past ten years and review them.
Mr Chidambaram was very receptive and replied positively on two demands on the spot. He said once the National Minorities Commission and the National Human Rights Commission finish their enquiries into the encounter, he will proceed accordingly. He said that steps are underway to ensure that anti-terror laws are not misused. We are satisfied with the meeting.
Ever since the Batla House encounter, there has been growing mistrust about political parties, especially the Congress, with which the community has always maintained a friendly relationship.
We were never friendly with the Congress. We worked for the defeat of the Narasimha Rao government. But then the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power. We worked to ensure their defeat and the Congress came back to power.
This current term was the one where we completely lost faith in the Congress, especially after the Batla House encounter. We don't have any faith in other parties like the Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party.
But Samwajwadi Party leader Wasim Gazi shared the dais with you in Delhi
He was there as a Muslim, not as a SP member. If Gazi wants to join us, he is welcome. But we will have nothing to do with the Samajwadi Party.
You said you may join the Third Front. The SP may feature in such a front.
I said we will lead a Third Front. We will support the Third Front only if we are given the leader's role. We won't join somebody and do their bidding.
So will your organisation enter full-fledged electoral politics?
Yes, it will. The Ulema Council is an umbrella body. We have the support of a lot of organisations. We will definitely contest elections from Azamgarh and Lalganj. We are planning to contest from other places too.
What will be your political agenda?
We will stand for good governance. We are hoping to form something like the Bharat Vikas Manch. We are also against reservations in their present form, as talented and meritorious people suffer due to such policies. Reservations should be based on one's economic condition, not on caste or religion.
Why didn't the youngsters, who were falsely implicated in terror cases, come with you to Delhi?
Most of them are from Hyderabad. They could not make it. We are planning to go to Hyderabad soon and see what we can do for them.
What about your son?
He is fine. He could not come for the Delhi rally.
Inspector M C Sharma has been awarded the Ashoka Chakra.
It was wrong. Shame on the Congress government! They should not have conferred the award without the circumstances of the encounter and the officer's death being probed thoroughly.
Union Minister A R Antulay [Images] had raised questions about the circumstances of Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare's death.
we agree with him. Karkare was a good officer and good person. A thorough probe should be conducted into the circumstances of his death.
Some say you are blowing up the Batla House encounter issue as elections are approaching.
We have been organising protests against the encounter ever since it happened. We staged a protest on January 23. It is wrong to link our protests with the elections.
Why did that particular encounter assume so much significance?
It was the point where we totally lost faith in the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance. The encounter was carried out merely to save Shivraj Patil's job. Azamgarh lost two of its brightest because of Patil. He must be called Shivraj Kaatil (killer).
Why do you think Azamgarh is being targeted?
They have been watching the Muslim community. They have been watching where the community has prospered financially and academically. They are targeting such places.
Who are the 'they' you are referring to?
The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government. They have been acting under pressure from (the Israeli espionage agency) Mossad, which has been acting in coordination with the Sangh Parivar and targeting the Muslim community.
All the terror attacks in the country have been carried out by them. Karkare exposed them and brought out this naked truth. So they killed him.
We salute Karkake. In fact, we are going to approach his wife and request her to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Azamgarh. She is a like an elder sister to the people of Azamgarh.