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Abu Asim Azmi arrest drama in Mumbai
By MH Lakdwala, Mumbai
|Muslims in India are very sensitive
about their religious identity. The series of recent assault on their
religion through the route of legislation, courts and riots have made them
highly emotional about their religious identity, culture, values and
ethos. All political parties have exploited this vulnerability of Muslims.
Ironically Muslim politicians, irrespective of parties they belong to, are
the major culprits. In the name of protecting the rights of Muslims to
practice their religion, they have often emtionally blackmailed the
Last month Mumbai unit of Samajwadi Party (SP) led by its Mumbai unit
president Abu Asim Azmi took this route to reach out to the religious
sentiments of Muslims. His eyes are on the coming elections of
BrihanMumbai Mumnicipal Corporation, which has about 20 SP corporators.
On 2 August Azmi led a march to protest against the demolition of the
extended boundary wall of the Anjuman Jama Mosque at Malavni near Mumbai.
BMC demolition squad claimed that it was an illegal extension for which no
permission was taken. Whereas SP leaders say the local trust had taken
permission to extend the mosque’s boudary wall.
During the march Azmi and other party workers of SP were arrested for
violating prohibitive orders and rioting. Azmi was offered bail
immediately as is routine in such cases but he refused and insisted to
remain in the Thane Central Jail. The very next day in a wel-l planned
strategy a bandh was organised in Muslim majority localities and series of
public meetings were arranged to boost the image of Azmi with posters
pasted all over the place boasting his great sacrifices for the community.
Urdu dailies carried a series of advertisements followed by front-paged
coverage projecting Mr Azmi as the savior of the Muslims. Spin-doctors of
Azmi were successful once again in exploiting the Muslim religious
Time and again politicians take Muslims for granted. None of the
politicians and political parties care or bother for the real
socio-economic issues faced by the Muslims. Inspite of having four Muslim
cabinet ministers in the current government in Maharastra the real issues
of Maharastra Muslims are never raised.
An interesting point to note in Mr Azmi’s arrest was that the issue he
raised about the mosque wall demolition was an old one which had died last
year. It was out of the public memory. It could have been resolved through
SP corporators very easily. But Azmi chose to make a public issue out of
it. The reason is not far to seek.
Last month DF government decided to reduce the subsidy to English-medium
schools by 50 percent. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) sensing the wide
spread anger against the decision, took Chief Minister Vilasrao Desmukh
into confidence and convinced him to cancel the controversial
notification. NCP Muslim MLAs and corporators, most of whom defected from
SP recently, took the credit for this achievement and projected their
success through hand bills, posters, banners and advertisements in Urdu
This alarmed the SP which totally depends on Muslim votes in Mumbai for
its survival. Hence spin-doctors advised Azmi to act and the march against
the demolition of mosque boundary wall was concieved.
It’s now two years since DF government in Maharashtra came to power. SP
is an important constituent of the DF government with one minister in the
cabinet. But in these two years SP has not been able to put up any of the
issues which concern Muslims of the state before the cabinet, nor they
were able to do anything for the implementation of the Srikrishna