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30,514 arrests in the national capital, yet the media is blissfully unaware...
Jamiatul Ulama's "Jail bharo" agitation

One of India’s prominent Muslim organisations, Jamiatul-Ulama-i-Hind (JUI), launched a countrywide agitation on October 2, to press for a series of demands agitating the minds of Muslims in the country for long.

The organisation chose October 2, birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, to start this peaceful agitation in order to send a strong message that Muslims in the country do not support violent methods to attain rightful objectives. 

The JUI, one of the oldest Muslim organisations, had been in the forefront of the freedom struggle and helped to promote Gandhiji and his ideas when he entered Indian politics. It continues to abide by Gandhian values and takes part in mainstream politics. Its current president, Maulana As'ad Madani, has been associated with the Congress Party while its secretary (Maulana Madani's son) Mahmood Madani, is associated with theSamajwadi Party.

Speaking to MG, Maulana Abdul Hamid Nomani, press secretary of the JUI, said that the agitation began with 313 persons offering themselves for arrest in the "Fill-up-the-Jails" programme on the very first day. 

Scenes from the two-week long agitation in the heart of the national capital which meant nothing to the mainstream media

In this peaceful agitation when the volunteers instead of getting arrested for committing a crime were in fact raising their voice against certain policies of the government of the day which is not in the interest of the community or the country. In the Gandhian satyagrah style they voluntarily offered themselves for arrest.

The agitation had a few precise demands: 
» ban communal organisations
» stop communal riots in the country
» give 33 percent representation to minorities, particularly Muslims and backward sections, in the armed and para-military forces.
» purge educational syllabi of anti-minority content.

"The programme to "Fill-up-the-Jails" continued unabated till October 15 when it was halted after a meeting between a delegation of the agitators and Vijay Goel, minister of state in the prime minister's office on October 15 Goel had invited a 10-member delegation for talks when a multitude converged on the roads adjoining prime minister's house on the Race Course Road. 

Instead of taking note of the peaceful multitude of demonstrators, the police saw it as a "security risk" and it was only then (October 15) that a section of the national media took a brief note (from a security threat perspective!) of the huge activity that was going on in the capital for close to two weeks with thousands of people converging daily in front of Parliament and Prime Minister's house and courting arrest by thousands everyday. They were promptly arrested every day only to be released later since the police had no case against them.

During the meeting with Goel, Maulana As'ad Madani asked the minister to make sure that the government acted upon the agitators' demands by December 1, failing which the second stage of the agitation will be unleashed from Maharashtra on December 16 and similar "Jail Bharo" agitation will be conducted all over the country.

According to information available with MG, a high-placed authority in the central government had directed the media not to cover the agitation and the pliant media meekly played ball..

The JUI agitation seeks to exert moral pressure on the government to take urgent steps to stop riots through the National Solidarity Council (which has not been convened for many years) and to initiate preventive measures.

According to Maulana Nomani, the organisation is also supporting the amendment of Article 341 of the Constitution which would enable the underprivileged among Muslims to be accommodated in the Notified List and bring them at par with underprivileged Hindus like Dalits, in order for them to benefit from the special programmes of the government. 

When asked about the future course of action of the "Fill-up-the-Jails" programme, Maulana Nomani told MG that the organisation has planned to launch a countrywide district-level civil disobedience movement which may include non-payment of various government taxes and dues.

¯ Zafarul-Islam Khan
with Danish A Khan

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