Framed and acquitted: My tryst with late Umarji


By Abu Zafar1/17/13

 

“Jail se aane ke baad mere ghar ke samne bahot se patrkaar the, magar maine unhe baat karne se mana kardia. Gujarat mein Sach baat kadvi lagti hai (There were several media persons present outside my house after I was released from jail, but I chose not to interact with them. Truth sounds bitter in Gujarat),” said Maulana Hussain Ibrahim Umarji when I first met him about two weeks after his acquittal.

(A memoir into the life of Moulana Umarji who spent eight years in jail in connection with the Godhra train burning incident and was later acquitted of all charges)

I remember that Umarji was not ready to talk to any media person after his release. He had spent more than 8 years of his life in jail for no offence of his.

Gujarat Police had termed him as a ‘key conspirator’, while the media preferred ‘mastermind’, of the Godhra train burning incident which led to the death of 58 Karsevaks (workers affiliated to right-wing groups) travelling in the Sabarmati Express on 28 February 2002.

Though Umarji passed away last Sunday, his tryst with destiny has raised several questions which continue to haunt a secular and democratic state like India.

After trying hard for two weeks, Umarji had finally agreed to talk to me. In an exclusive interview in March 2011, he told me that he had never seen the Sabarmati Express as it passes Godhra only at night.

He even justified his reluctance of talking with media-persons by saying that he did not see any benefit in it. He said that there were chances of him being harassed by the state machinery again.

As he continued talking, he went on uncovering how Police fabricated cases against innocents and recorded confessional statements after meting out mental and physical torture.

“Is system ko badlo warna police har jagah dastakhat lekar kahani ghad le gi (Change this system, otherwise the police will take signatures everywhere and start fabricating stories),” he said.

According to Umarji, his only crime which attracted the wrath of the state machinery was that he submitted a memorandum to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpaee, who had visited Godhra during the riots in 2002.

In the memorandum, Umarji had pointed out the sort of preparations done by the rioters before the Godhra riots itself. According to him, post-Godhra incidents were not riots but ‘mass murder’.

He had also shared his and other victims’ difficulties with Vajpaee and human rights organizations.

“They wished that none should complain against their cruelty and should tolerate whatever is being done. Our action offended them,” Umarji said in a bitter tone.

Discussing the riots, he recalled that Godhra was a target of communal forces since a long time. On 23 March 1948, Godhra was set on fire and even during Advani’s Rath Yatra 26 Muslims were killed.

In the post-Godhra riots, 258 Muslims were killed only in Panchmahal district and their bodies were not even given to us, he had said.

Umarji, who had graduated from the well-known Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in 1967, headed relief work during and after the Gujarat riots. He also managed a relief camp which housed about 3500 refugees of the Gujarat carnage.

He had very close relations with the former Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind chief Maulana Asad Madani and had met former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and H. D. Deve Gowda during his days of social work.

 

Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband issues fatwa against tattoo, use of perfume #Wtfnews


Agencies : Deoband (UP), Wed Dec 05 2012,

Leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband has issued a fatwa against tattoo and use of perfume with alcohol content.

Issuing yet another decree, the seminary said,”Namaz of those, who have tattoo on their bodies or have sprayed perfume with alcohol in it, is not valid.”

A youth had asked a question from the seminary,”One of my friends has a tattoo on his arm and it would cost him a huge sum if he goes for a surgery to remove it.

Is it valid to have a tattoo in ‘sharia’. What he should do.”

In its reply the seminary said,”The tattoo should be removed with the help of a doctor.”

To another question on the use of perfume, the seminary’s reply on its website says,”Namaz (prayers) are not valid if someone is having a tattoo or has sprayed a perfume with alcohol in it.”

One more Islamic seminary, Bareli Markaz has backed the Deoband’s decree saying that,”Marking tattoo on body is against the tenets of Islam.”

Earlier, Darul Uloom had issued fatwa against appointment of Muslim women as receptionists, calling it illegal and against sharia law.

“Muslim women working in offices as receptionist is un-Islamic because Muslim women are not allowed to appear before men without veil,” it said.

 

Organisers wash hands off Amitava Ghosh, Hari Kunzru, others


 This was after Amitava Ghosh, Hari Kunzru, others read out passages from The Satanic Verses.

This press release is being issued on behalf of the organizers of the Jaipur Literature Festival. It has come to their attention that certain delegates acted in a manner during their sessions today which were without the prior knowledge or consent of the organizers. Any views expressed or actions taken by these delegates are in no manner endorsed by the Jaipur Literature Festival. Any comments made by the delegates reflect their personal, individual views and are not endorsed by the Festival or attributable to its organizers or anyone acting on their behalf. The Festival organizers are fully committed to ensuring compliance of all prevailing laws and will continue to offer their fullest cooperation to prevent any legal violation of any kind. Any action by any delegate or anyone else involved with the Festival that in any manner falls foul of the law will not be tolerated and all necessary, consequential action will be taken. Our endeavor has always been to provide a platform to foster an exchange of ideas and the love of literature, strictly within the four corners of the law. We remain committed to this objective.

Demanding a ban on visit of Salman Rushdie to India is outrageous: PUCL


Salman Rushdie

Image via Wikipedia

Press Release

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) views it with deep concern that some organizations have demanded ban on entry of Salman Rushdie in the country. The present call is illogical, preposterous and untenable as the writer has visited the country for several times after the Satanic Verses book controversy.

Those who have called for banning his entry must know that Rushdie being person of Indian origin does not need permission from the government – a visa – to visit his home country. To demand an unconstitutional measure to be invoked against some one, one might not agree with is as condemnable as when some lunatic groups would demand that certain book be taken off the shelf or some painting exhibition be not held or that the majortarian way of life should be standard for all in the country.

PUCL believes that the present demand is self defeating and is against the interest of the community in the name of which such demands are made. Above all demands such as these run counter to the values of a democratic society that the India is. Those who are misguiding gullible people are indulging in politics of symbolism based on emotional exploitation of the people thereby damaging our shared constitutional values. PUCL appeals to people to see through such moves and ignore such calls.

 

Sd./- Pushkar Raj General Secretary

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