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Mazahir Uloom raided

In a sensational case Delhi police arrested a senior teacher of Mazahir Uloom in Saharanpur and later raided the madrasa campus on 17 February and confiscated a bag belonging to Mufti Asrar, a senior teacher who taught Hadith and Fiqh for around fifteen years in this world famous madrasa. Police had arrested the senior Maulana on 15 Feb. Apparently the police made public the news of his arrest from his house in Saharanpur only two days later on 17 February when it raided Mazhir Uloom. A similar raid was conducted against another prominent madrasah, Nadwatul Ulama of Lucknow, on 22 Nov 1994 when some students were arrested in a pre-dawn swoop only to be set free at noon for lack of evidence.

In another development a madrasa in Saharanpur, Madrasa Islamiya Imdadul Uloom, was rattled by two bomb explosions injuring two people in the early hours of 17 February. In a similar incident Saliaghatwali Masjid was attacked causing injuries to two persons.

Mazahir Uloom is one of the leading madrasas in the country. It has thousands of students enrolled from across the country. It is said to have been established around the same time when Darul Uloom Deoband was established in the third quarter of the nineteenth century. 

According to reports, a police party arrived at the residence of the madrasa rector Maulana Muhammad Salman late night on 16 February and asked him for help in searching the desk of Mufti Asrar. The police had reportedly brought the key of the desk itself when it approached Maulana Salman who accompanied the police to the desk. The police opened it and recovered a ‘black handbag’ and took it away without opening it according to reports. 

The police revealed later that it recovered a pistol of Chinese-make and fourteen live cartridges from the bag which, according to the police version belongs to a Pakistani national called ‘Nawab’ who left it with Mufti Asrar. Nawab was arrested from Nizamuddin railway station on 1 Feb. It also claimed that Mufti Asrar had close contacts with ISI and militants of Harkat Al-Jihad Al-Islami. It alleged that Mufti Asrar was a confidant of Harkat chief Kifayatullah alias Mahtab, an Indian citizen who moved with his family to Pakistan. Intelligence agencies also claimed that Mufti Asrar used to visit Pakistan where he stayed with Mahtab. According to police, he visited Pakistan three times so far and this is recorded in his passport. Police allege that he used to work as a conduit between ISI agents and arm smugglers. 

Maulana Salman, the rector, told the media that the bag was not opened before him, so he has no idea as to what was recovered from it. He also said that despite serving for more than a decade, there was nothing to let him believe that Mufti Asrar was involved in any anti-national activity. Several students approached by MG held Mufti Asrar in the highest esteem. 

The next day, 18 February, Mazahir Uloom rector in a press release, denied that the institution was raided by the police. He claimed that the police had just approached him and it was extremely cordial with him. But it seems as if he was under tremendous pressure. This was evident when MG approached him over the phone. Maulana Salman was reluctant to answer anything about the incident and referred us to his press release in which, he insisted, he has said everything.

Mufti Asrar's arrest is being seen with increasing suspicion by Muslims at large. They take it as an extension of the vicious effort to malign madrasas and buttress allegations that they are actually involved in subversive and anti-national activities. The two bomb explosions in another madrasa in the area have added to the mystery. A hitherto unknown Hindu outfit calling itself ‘Arya Sena’ has taken the responsibility for the bomb blasts in leaflets found scattered at the site of the explosion.

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