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COMMUNITY NEWS: 1-15 January 2002

Banners put up at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to protest the Israeli aggression against Palestine on11 December 2001

Tension in Madhya Pradesh
Bhopal: Vigorous efforts are being made by vested interests to spread communal hatred and vitiate the atmosphere in Jhabua and some other tribal districts of Madhya Pradesh as a result of which a sense of fear is gripping the inhabitants of those districts. The communal atmosphere in these adivasi-dominated areas of the state is tense for the past few months. Also, in view of the forthcoming ‘Hindu samagam’ function in mid-January 2002, Hindu organisations are hyper active. They have distributed provocative pamphlets with pictures of Hanuman and the message "we must oppose anti-national Christian missionaries". In view of the tense situation in these areas the state government has issued strict orders to the police and administrative authorities to be vigilant and take strong action against any person or organisation trying to spoil the situation.

ANGER OVER Prophet’s caricature
New Delhi: Calling it a matter of great concern, members of the Lok Sabha raised their voice over the publication of a caricature of Prophet Muhammad in the leading daily The Hindu.
Raising the issue during zero hour BSP member Rashid Alvi said that government’s stand on the issue was irresponsible, because neither the Home Minister nor the Minister of Information gave any statement on the issue. GM Banatwala of Muslim League said that the publication had hurt the feelings of a community. E Ahmad, also of Muslim League, said that the government should admit that the matter is extremely sensitive. A National Conference member Ali Muhammad Naik also voiced his concern over the matter and enquired as to what action the government had taken in this regard. 
The paper promptly apologized the mistake to its leaders the very next day.

Graveyard misuse
New Delhi: People are angry over construction of shops on East Delhi’s Welcome Colony graveyard. The construction of eight shops and charging each shopkeeper a sum of Rs 25,000 by the graveyard management committee have angered people of the area who say that these constructions have restricted the graveyard space while the committee says that the graveyard’s gate is being enlarged by the money received from shopkeepers and that another land would be purchased for the graveyard. Local people have appealed to the managing committee not convert the graveyard into a business complex and stop any more constructions on the land.

Non-bailable warrant against AG Noorani
New Delhi: A court has issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Supreme Court advocate and distinguished columnist Abdul Ghafoor Noorani and cartoonist Dev Verta. The warrant has been issued regarding a case against both of them, filed by the RSS last year. An article of AG Noorani had been published in the daily Statesman alongwith a cartoon which carried caricature of a person wearing knickers and cap with the inscription RSS on its back and holding a pistol targeting Mahatma Gandhi. The RSS had filed a case saying that the cartoon showed RSS to be the killer of Mahatma Gandhi.

Urdu bill into dustbin
Delhi Assembly had passed the Official Languages Bill in April 2000. The bill aimed at making Urdu and Punjabi as the second official languages of the state but it has so far remained neglected both by Delhi as well as central governments. The bill was recently sent to the Union home ministry for the President’s permission as the constitution requires. If the bill is passed, even private schools will have to make arrangements to teach these languages and office curriculars will be issued in Urdu and Punjabi besides Hindi and English. 

Ittihad-e-Millat to awaken Muslims
Bareilly: Maulana Tauqir Raza Khan, president of All-India Ittihad-e-Millat Council says that his group will take out an Ittihad-e-Millat caravan in the entire state of UP to awaken and unite Muslims. He said that the purpose of the caravan is to make Muslims aware of their strength. He further said that all political parties have so far used Muslims for their political ends, but it will not be so any more. His outfit will support in the forthcoming Assembly elections any party which would promise to fulfill a 17-point programme, he added.

Madrasahs investigation harasses Muslims
Jaipur: In a memorandum to the district collector Tara Chand, Muhammad Ashfaq Qaim Khan, President of Qaim Khani Maha Sabha, has said that the police is harassing the minorities in the name of investigation of madrasas and mosques. He said that in Shaikhawati areas the madrasahs rendering teaching services for years are being investigated. The way the imams of the mosques are interrogated may worsen the atmosphere. He further said that recently one Hafiz Badruddin was called Osama and attacked near a bus stand. On 6 November police personnel entered Jamia Arabia Darul Uloom in the name of investigation which has created fear among minorities. He has demanded the district magistrate that if the police have to get information about any madrasa, they should first get permission of the managing committee and take the teachers in confidence and investigate in civilian dress.

Legal status for Raj. Minorities Commission 
Jaipur: Rajasthan Minorities Commission has been given legal position and a bill has been passed in Assembly after detailed discussion in this regard. Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Singh Shekhawat while answering a question in this regard said it is wrong to say that the bill was presented for some political benefits. He further said that the Minorities Commission has been given equal position to that of a civil court. He also presented a budget of one million rupees for necessary management of the Commission. He assured of more amount for the welfare and development of the minorities.

Carelessness may spread violence
Loni: Over a shamshan-ghat and a graveyard situated in Darbar Talab Colony of Eastern Delhi some mischief mongers are trying to create tension between the two communities. One contractor Havinder hired by Municipal Corporation of Delhi started digging in the middle of the graveyard. Soon his workers dug 10 feet deep and wide and 50 metre long area of the graveyard. This was done in the night. When Muslims of the localities got the wind of it, thousands of them gathered there. Seeing the explosive situation the contractor along with other employees took to heels. People of the area were angry over this illegal action of the authorities and expressing strong anger the furious mob jammed the roads. Police official and local leaders reached the spot and the issue was settled for the time being. But next day they again protesters and came on the roads accompanied by several local leaders. Though the MCD authority has stopped the work, they justified it saying that it was as per the order of the magistrate.
There has never been a controversy between the two communities over the graveyard and the shamshan ghat situated a few steps ahead. But the land digging has created a controversy which may be a conspiracy of the bad elements of the society who want to derive their own political gains. On the assurance of SDM and other officials the matter has been temporarily settled, but the situation may go beyond control if the work is again started.

Nadeem to file damage case
Mumbai: Music composer Nadeem Akhtar Saifee is planning to register a case in a London court claiming damages from the Indian government for being falsely charged with murder of audio king Gulshan Kumar in August 1997. This was stated by his lawyer Majeed Memon.
Nadeem has recently received 920,000 pounds (Rs .5 crore) as compensation from the government of India after he was declared innocent by the House of Lords before whom the Indian government was pleading for his extradition.
The lawyer Memon has also disagreed with recent reports saying that the music director was exonerated because of lack of Hindi translations of the statements given by the witnesses.

School and college timings
Rampur: In a letter to district magistrate of Rampur, MP Muhammad Azam Khan has said that change in school and college timings regarding Friday prayers has disturbed Muslims mentally. He said that earlier all schools were closed after 12 or 1 pm on Fridays and both teachers and students used to offer Juma prayers with ease. He further said that the new school timing is from 10 am to 4 pm including Fridays. Muslims have been allowed to go for offering Juma prayers at 12 o’clock, but after offering namaz they have to come back to their classes at 2 pm after which teachers should do their work and students should study.
Though it is not impossible, it is difficult because when teachers would come back to their classes, students would have left school, he said. This way their coming again would be of no use. He said that such orders deprive us of our rights and customs. He has suggested to the district magistrate that since it is a local issue, it can be solved only by fixing school and college timings form 9 am to 12 hour on Fridays as it was earlier.

Rajnath paves way for elections
In another attempt to gain public favour, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh has announced that his government would provide insurance cover to about 30 million students studying in the state government’s primary and junior high schools which would cost the state government Rs three crore per year.
Under the scheme, a student who is injured would be paid Rs 15,000 and in case the student dies, his/her mother will receive Rs 25,000, and if the mother dies, the same amount would be given to the student. Reimbursement amount would be paid to students whose books, bags and dresses are stolen. The CM has also announced to set up 792 industrial units in the state. These fresh sops are viewed as political gimmicks to garner votes in the forthcoming UP Assembly elections.

Shifting of Haj Committee office 
New Delhi: The Haj bill regarding shifting of the Central Haj Committee office from Mumbai to Delhi became controversial even before being presented in the just concluded session of Parliament. The controversies may give a new issue to anti-BJP groups in the forthcoming UP Assembly elections. More than two dozen members from different political parties including a few members of the ruling NDA have written a letter to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee saying that some Muslim organizations have threatened to launch an agitation on this issue. After a long procrastination the new Haj bill was presented before Parliament in December 2000, in which it was mentioned that the office of the Central Haj Committee should be shifted to Delhi and that a regional office should be set up in Mumbai. The government had forwarded the bill to the Standing Committee of Parliament which recommended in its amended report that the Haj Committee’s headquarters should be in Mumbai. People have started opposing the amendments. Hafiz Naushad Ahmad, President of Haj Sewa Samiti, which is carrying on an agitation on the demands of the prospective Haj pilgrims, has accused that the recommendation of the Standing Committee has been made under pressure of some influential people of Mumbai who do not want the Central office to be shifted to Delhi due to economic gains, while it is for the benefit of 75 percent of the Haj pilgrims. Parmod Mahajan, minister for parliamentary affairs has said that the bill will be passed during the winter session of Parliament, but it may be postponed due to the controversy over shifting of the head office. 

Muslim majority circles to be reserved
New Delhi: A demand has been made to undo Rotation System (RS) or exempt them from the system where number of minorities reaches 25 percent of above. Out of 133 seats of Municipal Corporation (MC), one third is reserved for women. In 25 seats reserved for other notified castes seats are also reserved for women of notified castes. Besides this changes would be made in the seats which had been started under the previous RS of MC. In the forthcoming elections which are scheduled to be held in February 2002, the status of eight seats where Muslims form majority would be changed. There is a strange method in RS that the number of circles which come into pairs are made common for all candidates. This is done even in some of those seats which are reserved for a particular community. While some general open circles with odd numbers are reserved for a particular community or their women. 
National secretary of Nationalist Congress Party Abdul Hameed Babu Khan has objected to it saying that areas where minorities form majority should not be taken under rotation system. He further said that on the one hand it is being stressed that Muslims and other minorities should be given chance to progress and on the other hand they are being stopped from taking part in the democratic activities by reserving their seats.
It should be noted that the system was challenged in high court in the previous municipal elections. But the court forwarded the matter to third tenure while keeping the system active in two tenures. Muhammad Shahid, member of Executive Committee of NCP has suggested that after modification all Municipal circles should be marked regular on the bases of which the status of Assembly or Lok Sabha seats are decided.


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