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'Cong has been making a fool of Muslim community'

Krishnakumar P in New Delhi | January 29, 2009 15:57 IST

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Criticising the Congress for letting down Muslims of the nation, the Ulema Council, which organised a protest rally in New Delhi [Images] against the harassment of youngsters hailing from Uttar Pradesh's [Images] Azamgarh, on Thursday said it will consider supporting the third front in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

"The Congress has been making a fool of the Muslim community by constantly raising the bogey of the Bharatiya Janata Party and other communal forces," Maulana Amir Rashadi, the chairman of the Ulema Council, said at a protest rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

Addressing a crowd of some 1000 people, most of whom had come from Azamgarh on a special train dubbed the Ulema Express to protest the harassment of Muslim youngsters and also the Batla House encounter, Rashadi said the party will contest from two seats - Azamgarh and neighbouring Lalganj -- in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

"Though we do not intend forming a full-fledged political outfit, we will contest these two seats independently. We also intend supporting the third front," he said.

He, however, said the Council will support the front only if it agreed to certain conditions.

"We won't blindly support anybody. Only if they agree to end the manner in which the so-called war against terrorism has been waged in the country and stop targeting innocent Muslims will we support anyone," Rashadi said.

He also said that the front should consult the Ulema Council in decision-making and also give it a place in the leadership team.

Communist Party of India secretary Atul Kumar Anjan and Samajwadi Party leader Wasim Gazi were on the stage when Rashadi spoke about the possibility of the Ulema Council extending support to the third front.

Rashadi also said that the Muslims across the country have started forming groups in their respective states and are monitoring the political situation carefully.

"Ever since the Batla House incident, Muslims from all over the country have started forming groups in their respective regions, keeping in mind the coming elections. According to the situation and these groups' readings Muslims are planning to align with regional forces also," he said, adding that if the move succeeds, the community can overcome its dependence on the main mainstream parties and create a space for itself in the political spectrum.

Rashadi also criticised the government for conferring the Ashoka Chakra on Delhi Police officer Mohan Chand Sharma.

"It is a shame on the government to have awarded him without a proper enquiry into the incident," he said, demanding a judicial probe into the killing of two youngsters, who the police claimed were terrorists responsible for the Delhi serial blasts.

The 24-coach Ulema Express, charted for Rs 13 lakh, reached Delhi two-and-a-half hours before its scheduled arrival time of 4 am on Thursday morning, as it was not allowed to halt in any station after Kanpur due to security reasons.

Paramilitary and police forces were however ready and the platform on which the train arrived was secured on time.

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