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Large-scale arrests follow SIMI ban

Most of the youth then do not have any relations with the organization. One Izzat Ali from Shahabd town in Rampur district in Uttar Pradesh had retired from the outfit eleven years ago, but he too was arrested by the police and is still reported to be languishing in Rampur jail. It is also reported that the police has got confused in some places and has gone on to seal the offices of some other Muslim outfit...

Large scale arrests have been reported from around the country following the ban on Students Islamic Movement of India last month. The largest number of arrest of the SIMI activists have been reported from UP followed by Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. It is reported that in small towns like Saraimir and Azamgarh tens of SIMI activists and sympathizers have been rounded up and have not been released on bail so far.

The centre’s move of banning the SIMI was sharply criticized not only by Muslim leaders but also a large number of opposition parties including Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Janata Dal (S) and all communist parties. Former prime minister HD Devegoda and the Samajwadi supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav are among the most vocal critics of the centre’s move of banning the small Muslim youth outfit. The criticism of the one sided action of the BJP government at the centre continues. The one sided ban on the SIMI has been criticized even by those persons who have been demanding ban on the SIMI for quite some times. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh has criticized the ban as a one sided action and has asked the centre to ban Bajrang Dal as well whom he believes is also involved in anti-national activities. Rajasthan chief minister has also criticized the move on similar lines and has asked the government to ban the Hindu extremist organizations as well. Nationalist Congress party whose Chagan Bhujbal, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra had repeatedly demanded banning the outfit has also distanced itself from any such demands and has said that the proposal was of the state government and the party had never made any such demand.

Meanwhile it is reported that the police at several places has arrested even those persons who were not even remotely connected with the SIMI. Such reports are mainly coming from the eastern parts of UP where largest arrests have been reported. It is also said that even those people who have retired from the SIMI have been arrested. SIMI is a youth organization and youth have to retire from the outfit when they attain thirty years of age. Most of the youth then do not have any relations with the organization. One Izzat Ali from Shahabd town in Rampur district in Uttar Pradesh had retired from the outfit eleven years ago, but he too was arrested by the police and is still reported to be languishing in Rampur jail. It is also reported that the police has got confused in some places and has gone on to seal the offices of some other Muslim outfits only to realize later that it was not the organization banned by the government. Such reports have been confirmed from MG sources in Saharanpur and other places too.

In the meantime efforts to get SIMI activists released continue. Though the bail plea of the SIMI activists in Delhi have been rejected so far it is believed that higher courts will release the activists on bail as there are no serious charges against them. Syed Qasim Rasul Ilyas the editor of a leading Urdu monthly Afkar-e-Milli and a former SIMI president says that we hope that the SIMI activists who have been arrested will be released soon. He says that most of the people arrested in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Andhara Pradesh have been released on bail by courts. On the question of prospects of the ban being lifted by the Tribunal constituted by the centre, he says that the SIMI stands fair chances of the ban being lifted as there are no serious charges against the outfit. He says that the SIMI was never involved in anti-national activities and it was only working for the character building of Muslim youth.

On being asked regarding the tribunal and pursuing ban on the SIMI, he says that we are now pursuing case with the Tribunal. He emphasizes that first priority is release of SIMI cadres from jails in different parts of the country. Innocent youth even remotely related to the SIMI were arrested following the ban, so their release is first priority, adds Ilyas. 
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