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Prime Minister promises to address Shia grievances
By Obaid Nasir, Lucknow

A memorandum on a 600-meter-long cloth with more than one and half lakh signatures was presented to the Prime Minister by a Shia Muslim delegation headed by the young Shia religious leader, Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, for the solution of many problems the community is facing, especially the grabbing of waqf properties by land sharks as well as by different government agencies.

Earlier Maulana Kalbe Jawwad had threatened that he and thousands of his followers will show black flags to the Prime Minister during his visit to his own parliamentary constituency, Lucknow, to address the much publicized NDA rally on 15 April, if the PM refused to meet a Shia delegation. This put the administration a quandary and all efforts were made to ensure that nothing untoward happens. Since the Prime Minister had come back from a successful visit of Iran just a day earlier it was a foregone conclusion that the administration will try its best to placate Maulana Jawwad whose family has special relations with the power that be in Iran. Moreover, Lucknow being the second largest centre of Shias in the country and its erstwhile rulers, the Nawabs, were originally Iranians, there is a cultural link between Lucknow and Iran and it is actually Indo-Iranian culture that is known as composite culture or Ganga Jamuni Tahzeeb.

Prime Minister Vajpayee has also tried his best to encash this cultural bond during his visit to Iran. Maulana Kalbe Jawwad informed the PM that the Lucknow Development Authority is openly grabbing Shia waqf land by declaring them as Nuzul land. The Prime Minister was astonished to learn that even the Raj Bhavan in which he was speaking to the delegation and the Laxman Park in which he had addressed the rally were Shia waqf land. He assured the delegation that the matter will be probed and suitable action will be taken.

Restoration of 953 Azadari (mourning ) processions, representation of Shias in assembly and Parliament, state and union cabinets, reconstruction of the Babri Masjid , immediate stopping of Qur’an burning spree and severe punishment to the perpetrators of this heinous crime, demarcation and registration of all waqf properties in the state, restoration of properties belonging to the Husainabad Trust wrongly entered as Nuzul land and doing away with the British system of management and entry of land record, were among the 12-point demands of the memorandum that the Maulana presented to the PM.

It may be noted that the main complaint of land grabbing by the Lucknow Development Authority is related with the ministry of urban development whose minister Mr. Lalji Tandon was also present during the delegation’s meeting with the PM. The administration had a trying time in persuading Maulana Jawwad to cancel his demonstration and meet the PM.

Later, addressing a huge gathering of Shia Muslims at Dargah Hazrat Abbas, Maulana Kalbe Jawwad warned the mutawallis that the time had come that members of the community check their accounts. They may save themselves from people but not from God, and they will have to come clear on D-day (Roz-e Hashr), he said. The Maulana added that in the presence of Mr. Tandon he apprised the PM how Lucknow Development Authority was selling prime waqf land despite our strong protests. How callous and partial BJP government is towards Muslims may be gauged from the fact that Rani Laxmi Bai memorial hospital in Lucknow’s Rajajipuram locality was constructed on the waqf land known as Karbala Azeemullah Khan and the government did not agree even to name the hospital in the name of this hero of 1857 war of independence. No doubt, Rani Laxmi Bai was also a champion of this war but she has nothing to do with Lucknow or the land in question. The government has also decided to install a sewerage treatment plant in Sajjad colony of Daulatganj Ward by removing hutmets of thousands of people belonging to the minority community ignoring other vacant land in the state capital.

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