Friday 18th Jan 2019
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Is AIMPLB on a Redefining Mode?

Cover Story

MOHAMMAD NAUSHAD KHAN analyses the resolutions adopted at the recent Lucknow session of All India Muslim Personal Law Board and dwells on the issue of release of innocent Muslim youth who have been implicated in terror cases for no fault of theirs vis-à-vis the attitude of the Government.

The process and formation of All India Muslim Personal Law Board in 1970s was meaningful and historical. The message underlined was that Muslim leaders whether Hanafi or Shafai, Ahle Hadith or Sunni or Shia, Deobandi or Barailvi, Dawoodi Bohra and Sulaimani Bohra assembled on one platform at Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1972 with the firm resolve to achieve the definite purpose. Therefore, the need of the hour is to inculcate that very spirit while addressing core issues pertaining to the Muslim community. AIMPLB for the time has tried to step out of its pre-defined periphery and has demanded to release and compensate innocent Muslims immediately. Will the spirit of 1972 be revived again and again?

On 3 February, AIMPLB, in its meeting chaired by Maulana Syed Mohammad Rabe Hasan Nadvi in Lucknow, expressed concern over illegal detention and arrest of Muslim youth and demanded to release all those innocent Muslims languishing in jails for many years and to compensate all those acquitted accordingly. It averred that a large number of Muslims are lodged in jails across India on false terror charges and even after the passage of so many years no chargesheet has been filed against them. The Board has also asked the government to punish all police and intelligence officials responsible for framing innocent Muslims on fake charges and concocted evidence. Demands of similar nature have been made by various organisations on numerous occasions but nothing concrete has been done so far either by state governments or by the government at the Centre.

On 1 February, a delegation comprising various Muslim organisations called on Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Minister for Minority Affairs K Rahman Khan to demand release of innocent Muslims. The same day, President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari, while speaking at the monthly briefing, demanded release of Muslim youth implicated in bomb blasts and punishment for the real culprits.

Last year, in December, the central working committee of All India Muslim Majlis-e- Mushawarat chaired by AIMMM president Dr Zafarul Islam Khan and attended by several members including Syed Shahabuddin, Nusrat Ali, Muhammad Ahmad and many others unanimously adopted a resolution demanding release of two Muslim youths who were arrested on false terror charges and later found to be innocent by the inquiry conducted by the Nimesh Commission. “The Nimesh Commission report was submitted a couple of months ago. Media reports suggest that the commission has found the two youth innocent but the UP government has unnecessarily sought the opinion of district collectors and commissioners. The AIMMM demands UP government to fulfil its electoral promise and release all the jailed Muslim youths booked on fake terror charges,” AIMMM stated in the resolution.

AIMMM is also contemplating a white paper on innocent Muslims languishing in jails on terror charges. Recently, a 15-member multi-party delegation led by Sitaram Yechury and Ram Vilas Paswan submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying innocent Muslims are still languishing in jails even after terror charges against them have not been proved. The Prime Minister at that point of time assured the visiting delegation that he would not only forward the viewpoint of the delegation but also ask Home Minister to formulate a mechanism which can help resolve this issue. The memorandum was also equally endorsed by CPI, SP, RJD, JD (U), NC, TDP, DMK and BSP.

Recently, Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) took out a protest march to parliament in the national capital to demand an immediate end to arrest of Muslim youth in false cases. In October 2012, Justice Rajinder Sachar along with members of Socialist Party had released a list of 49 Muslim youths from UP who were arrested on terror charges, and demanded from the state government to conduct an impartial probe. Maulana Abdur Raheem Quraishi, spokesperson of the Board while talking to reporters in Lucknow after the Board meet said that thousands of innocents Muslim are languishing in jail for so many years and no chargesheet has been filed till date. It is shameful for a country like India which boasts of its democracy and secularism that her youth are implicated in false cases.

Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, while speaking at the third National Convention against “Politics of Terror Targeting Muslim Youth”in Hyderabad on 13 January said that most of the Muslim youths arrested on terror charges are illiterate and are generally from poor socio-economic background. Aiyar certainly raised a valid point that all those innocent Muslims after their release must be rehabilitated and provided with certificates by the government that they are innocent and were arrested for no fault.

The Samajwadi Party, in its election manifesto, mentioned that after coming to power his government would do all in its capacity to release innocent Muslims. Even after coming to power the Samajwadi Party reiterated its assurance that the government would release innocent Muslims but those kind words have so far not been translated into action and the Muslims organisations from Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere have been repeatedly demanding release of innocent Muslims.

In most cases police officials do not know what to do after arresting them because they usually fail to find any evidence to substantiate their arrest. Akhilesh Yadav soon after taking over the reins of UP, announced that his government would seek legal opinion to withdraw terror cases against the accused in the 23 November, 2007 serial blasts case in Faizabad and Lucknow court premises.

Are all these voices not enough for the government to act for the betterment of the situation or it requires only a mass campaign as orchestrated by anti-corruption crusaders on each and every issue? It is therefore essential to speak in one voice in order to make it more effective which could at least awaken the consciousness of the government to address the core issue of Muslims at the earliest.   

AIMPLB, in its Lucknow meet, raised many other issues apart from the issue of illegal arrest of innocent Muslims across India. SQR Ilyas, member executive committee of AIMPLB, while talking to Radiance said AIMPLB in its meeting has expressed concern over the way the court has interpreted the Qur’ān. If the interpretation of the Qur’ān is not done in accordance with the Sharia Application Act, 1936, it may create conflicting situations. At times the court has also interpreted on the lines of other Muslim countries while not taking into account the fact that the Sharia law has been defined in the Indian context and not in accordance to what it followed in various other Muslim countries.

Another point raised in the meeting was the issue of compulsory registration of marriage. The Board is of the view that the registration should be made optional and not mandatory. Qazis performing Nikah must be granted status of registrars and Nikah register should be treated on the lines of government record. Further it would be unfair to declare unregistered marriages illegal. He further said that in Assam, AP and West Bengal Qazis are registered with the Waqf Board and their records are considered to be legal and valid. AIMPLB also discussed as to how the CBI was moving in the Babri Masjid case.

Yet another aspect which was taken up during its meet was the issue of Direct Taxes Code Bill and Waqf Bill. Dr Waquar Anwar, Secretary Board of Islamic Publications, while talking to Radiance, said that the proposed draft of the Direct Taxes Code is not in accordance of the Income Tax Act of 1961 in terms of religious institutions. Under the proposed format religious institutions may be denied tax benefit. An organisation may be religious without being charitable. The existing Income Tax laws describe both charitable and religious purposes as two mutually exclusive objects and so organisations with charitable purposes are different from those with religious purposes. He stressed that the shortcomings of the present draft must be taken into account before it is tabled in Parliament.



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