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Lucknow: Top Islamic cleric joins Gandhigiri protest

November 08, 2006 20:20 IST

Inspired by Bollywood blockbuster Lago Raho Munna Bhai, a large group of youngsters of the city had taken to Gandhigiri nearly two months back to press for shifting of a liquor shop from the vicinity of a temple in Lucknow .

But what took everyone by surprise was the participation by internationally acclaimed Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, who is also senior vice president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board at a truly Gandhian protest demonstration Wednesday.

Donning the Gandhi cap, the Maulana joined local residents of Rana Pratap Marg, where the disputed liquor shop was located, to spray flowers in front of the closed shutters of the shop.

He also drew tremendous applause when he hailed the protestors while addressing the fairly large gathering in an enclosure erected on the road itself.

The Maulana's presence left the liquor shop owner so jittery that he not only chose to keep his shutters down for most of the day, but no sooner than the demonstration was over, he also came down to assure the protestors that he would start looking for an alternative location to shift his shop.

"Just give me some time to find a suitable alternative location and I am assuring you that I will shift my liquor shop from here," the owner and well known local liquor magnet Gurnam Singh told the residents of Rana Pratap Marg in the presence of this scribe.

He went on to add, "Even if I am unable to find another place, I will make it a point not to seek a renewal of my  licence for this site which expires in March 2007."

For the protestors , it was already a moral victory over what was perceived an 'impossible task', when they dared to take up cudgels against Singh, who was otherwise feared because of his connections with both the high and the mighty.

Earlier in the day, Singh had called on Maulana Kalbe Sadiq too to give him a similar assurance and to request him to call off today's protest.

"I made a request to the Maulana as also urged  these residents to give up their protest as I had already made up my mind to look for another place; but they did not listen to me," Singh told this scribe.

Earlier while expressing praise for Lago Raho Munna Bhai, Maulana Kalbe Sadiq told the crowd, "Some films are known to misguide and mislead people; but here is this movie, which clearly appears to be guiding masses to the right path and was therefore praiseworthy."

He however denied having seen the film himself.

The Maulana even went up to the temple and made it loud and clear, "While liquor shop was bad anywhere, it cannot be tolerated imn the vicinity of a temple or any other religious place."

Another popular Islamic cleric Maulana  Fazlur Rehman of the Sunni sect, who also joined the unique protest, "When the Gandhian movement could ensure independence for the country, then there was no reason why it would not provide relief to the residents of this locality who were only seeking removal of a liquor shop."

Residents S/K/Lakhani and Sandeep Seth who have been spearheading the Gandhigiri protest against the liquor shop where they had earlier (in September) gone to offer roses to the shop owner, were confident that their unique mission would 'eventually bear fruit'.

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow