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Muslim clerics come out in Abu Bashar’s defence
Published on 22 Aug. 2008 12:24 AM IST
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Prominent Islamic clerics led by the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Maulana Ahmed Bukhari, Thursday came out in support of madrassa teacher Mufti Abu Bashar, arrested for his alleged involvement in last month’s serial bombings in Ahmedabad, and demanded the government stop “undue harassment of Muslims”. Joined by Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi, MP from Mumbai, Bukhari virtually sounded a bugle of revolt against what he termed the “anti-Muslim” policies of the Indian investigating agencies. Azmi hails from a village that adjoins Bashar’s native village Bina Para in Sarai Meer ara of Azamgarh district. The protest rally on the Lucknow-Azamgarh highway drew at least 5,000-7,000 people, who kept the road blocked for hours while raising anti-police and anti-government slogans. The crowds cheered the speakers when they openly flayed the government and the police. While both Azmi and Bukhari termed the police action as “biased”, Bukhari went to the extent of issuing a warning, “If the government does not take early measures to bring an end to undue harassment of Muslims who are indiscriminately labeled as terrorists, this country is in for another partition; So let us be prepared for nation wide riots and violence.” He said, “All this talk about creation of Indian Mujahideen needs to be probed; I would not be surprised if such an organization has been floated by fundamentalist bodies like the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) or VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) with the sole intention of defaming Muslims.” Azmi said: “I am not giving any clean chit to anyone, but the manner adopted by the investigating agencies speaks of a blatant bias and a predetermined approach.” He felt, “an appropriate way to deal with the situation would be to constitute a high level committee comprising secular minded judicial luminaries like Justice Sachar, Justice Krishna Iyer and Justice A.A. Ahmadi. It could even have representatives of Hindu organizations like RSS and VHP. Let them question the arrested young Muslim boys and if the committee is convinced that they are actually involved in terrorism, let them be hanged.” However, in the same vein he went on to add a word of caution, “but what the investigating agencies are doing today is grossly unfair; they were all declared as terrorists well before any trial and this is what needs to be stopped.”

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