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Advani threatens to ban SIMI
By P.M. Damodaran, Lucknow

A ban on Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is on the cards. Though the Uttar Pradesh government is not very much in favour of the proposal, the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani has hinted on such a possibility stating that the disruptive activities of SIMI are causing great concern to the central government.

Mr. Advani at a press conference in Lucknow on August 18 had revealed that many state governments had requested the Centre to ban the outfit. Some state governments had also passed on vital information to the Centre regarding the anti-national activities of the organization. The Union Home Minister pointed out that the Centre could not proceed with a ban unless it had documentary evidence to substantiate its case before a judicial tribunal. Under the Unlawful Activities Act, the Centre has to get the approval of a judicial tribunal to enforce a ban on any organization. Mr. Advani even disclosed that the Centre was in the process of collecting important information against the outfit.

This development had come a couple of weeks after the U.P. Chief Minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh, opposed a demand for a ban on SIMI. Mr. Singh at a press conference in Aligarh had bluntly remarked that he was not in favour of the ban as it would not be a solution to the problem. Instead of that the Chief Minister wanted the government and law enforcing authorities to deal firmly with the activities and activists of the organization. When the bureaucrats and senior police officials apprised him of the nexus between SIMI and some Kashmiri militant organizations after the arrest of some activists of the former, Mr. Singh had just told them to strengthen the dossier against it. The Chief Minister had, however, been maintaining that it was for the Centre to take a decision on the matter as the power of imposing ban on an organization rested with it. In fact, Mr. Singh himself disclosed that one of his predecessors had sent a proposal to the Centre demanding a ban on it but nothing was done on it.

The Director General of Police, Mr. R.K. Pandit, toed the line of the Chief Minister. Mr. Pandit had even went a step further by stating that he did not consider SIMI as an anti-national organization. He felt that some anti-social elements might have sneaked into the outfit. His predecessor, Mr. M.C. Dwivedi had also held the same view as he felt that a ban would not be a solution to the problem. The state Home Department had also gone with the chief minister’s view.

The Chief Minister is apparently opposing the ban in view of the coming Assembly elections in the state. He does not want to antagonize the minority community in the wake of the Assembly polls as he apprehends that the Muslims may not take the ban lightly. In fact, most of the political parties, barring the Bharatiya Janata Party, are against the ban on political reasons. Though Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments had favoured action against SIMI, the President of the state unit of the Congress had strongly opposed the move for obvious reasons.

In fact the BJP had been vociferously demanding a ban on the SIMI for some time on the ground that its activities were detrimental to the interests of the nation. The President of the state unit of the BJP, Mr. Kalraj Misra, was among those who had been clamouring for a ban on the outfit along with the Bajrang Dal leader, Mr. Vinay Katiyar, who is also a vice-president of the state unit of the party. The BJP and other organizations of the Sangh Parivar had been passing resolutions at its meetings demanding a ban on SIMI despite the fact that the move has not found favour with the Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, SIMI has condemned the statement of Mr. Advani regarding the ban on it. In a statement, the President of SIMI, Mr. Shahid Badr has said that the government would not be able to get concrete proof to ban the organization. He has also alleged that the government is trying to fabricate false proof against the outfit. Mr. Badr pointed out that the government’s allegations against SIMI had always proved to be false.

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