Shortly after being criticised by the Shia community for defending Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone gunman arrested during the terror siege on Mumbai, lawyer Abbas Kazmi has been removed as a trustee from the prestigious Islam Gymkhana on the same ground.
Kazmi's appointment as a trustee of Islam Gymkhana was terminated this week on the ground that defending a terrorist was against the essence of Islam. This is the second instance where Kazmi has been criticised after he took up Kasab's case.
A few days ago, Muslim Ulemas, clerics and scholars had said that "by calling himself a Shia community member, Kazmi has given an impression that he is the leader of Shias".
The gymkhana sent Kazmi a letter saying "you have agreed to defend the most dreaded terrorist Kasab. This is against the essence of Islam. There is no place for terrorism in Islam and also no scope for any defence of a terrorist. To maintain the Gymkhana's integrity, your trusteeship is being terminated".
Reacting sharply to the Gymkhana's decision, Kazmi told PTI, "This smacks of political vendetta. The gymkhana is not a Muslim body but an association of persons. How can they say that defending an accused was against the essence of Islam"?
"I am performing my professional duty. Accepting Kasab's brief has nothing to do with Islam. The court has appointed me to take up Kasab's case and I have followed the directive," he said.
"Asking me not to defend Kasab is like putting pressure on me and it amounts to interference in the administration of justice. They have removed me from the board of trustees and now they want to expel me from the membership," Kasab's lawyer said.
Kazmi said he had openly aired differences with Gymkhana president Zakat Siddiqui at the Annual General Body meeting of the body recently and this was the provocation for removing him as a trustee of this body.
"It seems that the president wants to settle personal scores with me. There is a hidden agenda behind the decision to expel me as a trustee," Kazmi alleged.
Siddiqui, however, refuted Kazmi's allegations, saying the general body meeting of the Islam Gymkhana had rejected the proposal to admit Kazmi as a trustee because he had 'belittled' not only the Gymkhana but also the entire Muslim community by defending Kasab.
The Gymkhana was founded in 1890 and has about 1,500 members on its rolls.